Child Pornography Reporting Laws

by John McKiggan

A new California law mandates that computer technicians who discover child pornography MUST report it immediately to a specified child protection agency. Laws like this are proven to help catch sexual predators and those who protect them. A recent example is the convictions of Father Shawn Ratigan and Bishop Robert Finn.

Bishop Failed to Report Child Porn

In December of 2010 a computer technician found “alarming pictures” of children on Reverend Ratigan’s laptop. Despite the pictures being shown to Bishop Finn, the Bishop decided not to report Ratigan to police.

Ratigan eventually was caught, charged and convicted of producing and possessing child pornography. But what is perhaps more significant is that Finn became the first Bishop to be convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse.

Had the technician reported the images to police, Ratigan would not have been able to continue preying on children. New laws that require reporting suspicions of child pornography will assist authorities in identifying and apprehending predators.

Nova Scotia Ahead of the Curve

Since 2008, Nova Scotia has had a law in place requiring the reporting of any child pornography to relevant authorities. The Act explicitly states:

“Every person who reasonably believes that a representation or material is child pornography shall promptly report to a reporting entity any information, whether or not it is confidential or privileged.”

The Act goes on to state that every person who fails to report is guilty of an offence and is:

“…liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than two thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both.”

The Rest of Canada

Since December 6, 2011 a Federal law has been in place called: “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service”.

The law requires any person who provides internet access, content hosting (such as social networking sites), or an e-mail service to notify authorities if they have reasonable grounds to believe their service is being used to commit child pornography offences.

The statute specifically states persons must report suspected child pornography if it comes to their attention. The Act sets out a range of fines from $1,000 to $100,000 and also includes the potential of jail time for repeat offenders.

What Can I Do to Help?

If you suspect a child has been a victim of sexual abuse you should immediately call the police in your area.

If you wish to remain anonymous, there is a website available in Canada which is devoted to the reporting of sexual exploitation of children.

The website allows users to post information about suspected child sexual abuse so authorities can be contacted and investigate. In addition, there is a section for internet service providers to allow them to report suspicions of abuse.

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