28 August, 2012
Child pornography offences increased, updated for new technology
Justice Minister Judith Collins today announced Government plans to increase maximum penalties for child pornography offences and to future-proof laws against advances in technology.
Ms Collins says offenders can access objectionable material in ways and at speeds unimagined only a decade ago.
“The internet allows objectionable material to be easily viewed and shared. New technology enables transmitting, retrieving and storing an almost infinite quantity of data at high speed and low cost – offenders can possess collections of over 100,000 images of sexually exploited children.
“Possession creates a market encouraging further production. So we’re increasing the penalties for possession, distribution and production of child pornography.
“Social networking sites, online chat programmes and communication tools such as texting have made it easier for adults to communicate with children.
“This increases the risk of harm to children, so we are creating a new offence for indecent communication with a child (anyone under 16 years old).
“We’re also making it clear that possession includes intentionally viewing objectionable material, for example, via streaming video or online chat, even if that material is not downloaded or saved.
“Child pornography is a record of terrible abuse suffered by children. We’re making changes to ensure sentences reflect the seriousness of the crime, and we’re sending a strong message that the exploitation and abuse of children will not be tolerated,” Ms Collins says.
The new measures include:
- increasing the maximum penalty for possession, import or export of an objectionable publication from 5 years to 10 years imprisonment
- increasing the maximum penalty for distributing or making an objectionable publication from 10 years to 14 years imprisonment
- creating a presumption of imprisonment for repeat offenders - any person convicted of a child pornography 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 material over the internet without consciously downloading or saving it
- creating a new offence of indecent communication with a child (anyone under the age of 16) which includes texting, online and verbal communication.
Officials will now begin working on legislation to be introduced to the House later this year.