Feeds

Pennsylvania court says viewing child porn 'not illegal'

Cache loophole

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A US court has ruled that viewing child pornography on a website without deliberately saving it to a computer is not a crime. The judge said that the state penal code was ambiguous, so he must rule in favour of the defendant.

Anthony Diodoro, a 26-year-old from Delaware County, Pennsylvania admitted knowingly viewing 370 child-porn images online. He also admitted that he had intentionally visited the websites for the purpose of viewing child porn.

State law says that a person must have "knowing possession" of child pornography in order for it to be a crime. A panel of three judges in the Pennsylvania Superior Court concluded that Diodoro could not be convicted of knowingly possessing the images because there was no evidence that Diodoro knew that his computer was storing the images in its internet cache file.

"Because this is a penal statute with an ambiguous term when it comes to computer technology, it must be construed strictly and in favour of the defendant," wrote Judge Richard Klein.

"A defendant must have fair notice that his conduct is criminal," wrote Klein. "Because of the ambiguity, sufficient notice was not provided here. For this reason, we are constrained to reverse [a previous decision] and leave it to the Legislature to clarify the language if it intends to make the mere 'viewing' of child pornography a crime."

Klein said that it was well within the power of lawmakers to clarify the law, if that was their intention. "We note that it is well within the power of the Legislature to criminalize the act of viewing child pornography on a Web site without saving the image," he concluded.

In the UK, the Protection of Children Act can be used to convict someone for viewing child porn on the internet, regardless of whether or not they understood a computer's cache function. "In the UK simply viewing images classes as a download because your computer makes images of them on your screen," said Tony Fagelman of the Internet Watch Foundation, a body which works to minimise the availability of images of child abuse. "The decision is quite unusual, usually US law follows the same legal framework that we do in the UK."

Related links

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.