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E-mailing child porn is illegal under bill

March 27, 2001 

TALLAHASSEE — Knowingly sending child pornography by e-mail would be a felony under a bill that gained preliminary approval in the Legislature on Monday.

Possession of child pornography — including computer images — is already against Florida law. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved a bill (SB 144) that would broaden that to include sending pornographic images of children over the Internet.

There currently is no such provision. The bill is partly aimed at nabbing people out of state who send pornography into Florida. Those people can't be charged by Florida authorities with possession — but supporters argue they still could do harm here.

"This bill is primarily meant to deal with the pervert in, say, Minnesota, who is sending pornography to someone in Florida," said Sen. Steve Geller, D-Pembroke Pines, the bill's sponsor.

The committee changed the measure to address several members' concerns about people who may unknowingly forward e-mails to people that contain child pornography.

The bill must be approved by three more Senate committees before it can go before the full Senate.

A similar bill (HB 203) is working its way through the House.

Both bills have raised concerns about their constitutionality. Civil liberties advocates have told lawmakers the bill, as it is currently written, violates free speech protection.

Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel

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