SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Senate has passed a bill making it illegal to intentionally look at child pornography online, even if it isn’t downloaded or purchased.
The senators voted 29-0 in favor of SB 803, filling a gap in a child pornography law passed in 1995.
Tim Henning, ASACP’s executive director, said that while the ASACP supports government efforts to strengthen child pornography laws on both state and federal levels, there needs to be a level of protection for people who are not a danger to children, but who may come across the material by accident.
“I believe that this has the potential to ensnare innocent individuals as pedophiles clearly download/purchase child pornography intentionally,” Henning said.
“If an individual does not intentionally download or purchase child pornography they very well may not realize what the content is until they open and view it. Child pornography laws need to serve the greater public good and be aimed at protecting children, prosecuting those that are a danger to children while protecting the innocent.”
In January, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that current state law does not consider it a crime to view child pornography online as long as the person looking at it does not buy it or download it. The court also ruled that there are no laws that explicitly ban viewing child pornography, unless the viewer pays for those.
“Our children need to be protected,” said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, co-sponsor of SB 803.
“Under no circumstances should the sexual exploitation of innocent children be tolerated. I believe this type of crime is one of the worst imaginable and should be punished to the full extent of the law,” she said.
“This bill corrects and oversight and very clearly outlines that viewing child pornography on the internet is considered a crime in Oregon,” said Sen. Joanne Verger, the bill co-sponsor.
SB 803 now goes to the Oregon House.