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New Bill Could Require IT Workers to Report Child Pornography Found in Computer Systems

In early February 2016, a Utah House committee passed HB155, a bill to make it a crime for IT workers who come across child pornography in the systems they service to fail to report their findings. The bill is currently on the Senate’s 2nd Reading Calendar. The bill’s language specifies that IT workers are not required to search for child pornography while working on computers and computer systems, but rather that if it does come up during work-related searches and operation, the technician must report it to law enforcement. Failure to report found child pornography would be charged as a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. It would also grant immunity to workers who report finding illegal images in good faith.

This is not the first bill of its type to be introduced to a state legislature. Currently, 12 states have similar laws, one of which makes it a felony for an IT worker to fail to report child pornography found in the course of his or her work. These laws exist alongside mandatory reporter laws, which require adults in certain positions, such as teachers, daycare workers, pediatricians, and child psychologists, to report any instances of child abuse they witness or suspect to be happening to the children in their care.

Too Much Responsibility for IT Workers?

Critics of the bill state that requiring IT workers to report the child pornography they find oversimplifies the issue and goes too far in the direction of criminalizing a failure to report child pornography. Some critics also worry about the issues that could arise surrounding false accusations and instances where unsuspecting individuals’ computers are hacked to contain illegal images. Another issue is the concern of blackmailing IT workers and computer owners regarding such findings. There is also the concern of having to prove that a worker who failed to report child pornography did, in fact, know that it was present in the computer he or she serviced and intentionally failed to report it to local law enforcement or a cyber tipline.

The bill aims to protect IT workers as well. If passed, it would make it legal for workers to break confidentiality agreements with their clients to make their reports and could give technicians confidence to report their findings. In all, the bill aims to crack down on the dissemination of child pornography.

Work with a Florida Child Pornography Defense Attorney

Being accused of viewing, creating, or distributing child pornography is a serious offense. However, there are defenses to this charge. If you have been charged with a child pornography-related offense, work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can determine the right legal strategy for you. At Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC, we have the knowledge and legal experience to help you form an effective defense strategy for your case. Contact us today to schedule your free legal consultation with our firm.

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