Online child sex abuse

The Herald reports:

A new which would mean tougher penalties for online child sex abuse will be introduced to Parliament this week.

The Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill increases maximum penalties for crimes related to making, trading or possessing offensive material, such as images of sexually exploited children.

It also means anyone convicted of a child sexual exploitation offence for a second time will be sent to prison.

That should be a deterrent.

The new measures include:

– maximum penalty for possession, import or export of an objectionable publication increased from five years to 10 years imprisonment

– maximum penalty for distributing or making an objectionable publication increased from 10 years to 14 years imprisonment

– any person convicted of a child sexual exploitation offence for a second time will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment

– making it clear in the Classification Act that possession of objectionable material includes intentionally viewing electronic material without consciously downloading or saving it

That last measure could be problematic. The Q+A on the bill says:

Would a computer user accidentally clicks on an offensive link be guilty of possession? 

No. The change to the Classification Act will make it clear that possession relates to intentional viewing of electronic objectionable material. 

If a person accidentally or unintentionally clicks on a link to offensive material, they will not be committing an offence. Forensic analysis of a person’s computer will enable enforcement agencies to distinguish between accidental (or unintentional) and deliberate viewing of objectionable publications.

The exact wording of the bill is not out, but this is an area where some caution may be needed. A browser loads images onto your computer, without you even asking it to. You may click on a page, realise it is not a page you want, but by then every image on the page is downloaded.

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