Local Politics

Bill Seeks to Have Photo Processors Sound Child Porn Alarm

Posted February 1, 2007

— A bill filed in the state House of Representatives offers a new approach to catching sex offenders.

Its sponsors want to require all photo shops to report child pornography images to authorities.

The bill is titled simply: "The duty to report child porn."

Legislators say its focus is to protect children.

"We're obviously after the people who abuse children," said Rep. Karen Ray, R-Iredell County and one of the sponsors.

The legislation would make it state law for any photo-finisher to report to the authorities any images of child pornography they discover in a customer’s order.

"The processors, the technicians, are the ones who may get information on such activity prior to anyone else," Ray said.

Sometimes the technicians can make a bad call, however.

Take the 2004 case of the Hamaty family. They submitted photos to an Eckerd drug store in Raleigh. One of the pictures appeared to show Charbel Hamaty kissing his infant son's groin area.

"I would never do what you all think I'm doing," Hamaty said in an interview with WRAL.

The Lebanese native spent six months in jail before the sexual assault charges were thrown out. Authorities determined the pictures were a misinterpreted display of affection.

Now his attorney, Anthony Brannon, says it's a gray area of which lawmakers should be aware.

"What the Hamaty case has shown us," Brannon said, is that "when the net is set out to catch those tunas, there can be an innocent dolphin in that net.”

The bill goes to a review committee as the next step in the legislative process.

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  • TAO Feb 6, 2007

    Hey firedad, your passion is totally justified, and I definitely understand it. My biggest fear, the one that makes my senses blank out and my mind almost shut down when it hits me, is that the unintended consequences of a law passed under a blanket such as "protect our kids!" will burn me or someone I love. I've seen so much of our freedom stripped for the purposes of SOMEONE'S security that I'm quite frankly hesitant to trust anyone in Congress anymore. In all honesty, as much as I love the freedom that America is founded upon, I see it crumbling, and once the government has stripped sufficient freedoms from us, what will we do then? Why do we allow laws to pass unhindered that can be construed to things they shouldn't be in the first place?

  • Punky Feb 5, 2007

    Yes offender I see your point, and it is completely valid. It sounds like photo developers need some sort of training or whatever. Second, you should read the law as to what constitutes child pornography and you'll notice that it is rather clear cut. I'm not saying that the law may be misinterpreted by someone but it's not a huge grey area. A law like this is good, but it seems that there must be careful consideration, and proper wording of the law before a law like this this is passed. I apologize to you for my previous comments, just happened to strike a bad nerve on a bad day.

  • TAO Feb 5, 2007

    Hey "firedad," we're not talking exclusively about child pornography here. This issue has ramifications that can seriously harm innocent people, and it would be wise of you to consider them. It could even happen to you or someone in your family, in fact. What is a totally innocent photo to a parent (nude or fully clothed) may be interpreted by a pervy high school kid processing the film as a child in a sexually suggestive position solely because he doesn't want to run the risk of getting put in jail himself...that is, if this law passes. The end result would not be "child molestors going to jail." It would be closer to "innocent families being publicly embarassed by expensive, unnecessary investigations." Also note that every law enforcement resource used on a pointless "does this look sexually suggestive to you?" investigation is a resource that isn't being used to solve real crimes involving real damage to children. I'm sorry that you don't realize this. I really am.

  • Punky Feb 2, 2007

    OFFENDER WE ARE TALKING ABOUT CHILD PORNOGRAPHY HERE!!!!! IT'S SICK AND AGAINST THE LAW!!!! There is a line between invasion of privacy and protecting our children. Apparantly you think it is ok to molest and have sex with children behind closed doors. You are absolutely sick, you make me puke.

  • TAO Feb 1, 2007

    It is something that should be done, but it shouldn't be LEGISLATED. We can't be LEGISLATING EVERYTHING. I thought photoshops reported these things ANYWAY, but by making a law out of it that forces them to do it, they'll report things they normally would be able to make a better judgment call on their own about--instead of deferring responsibility to police, which costs ME, JOE TAXPAYER, MORE F*(&$@!# MONEY EVERY YEAR TO ENFORCE. Police aren't supposed to be out there looking at everyone's family photos, they're supposed to be stopping the drug dealers from selling crack to children. Common sense, I would think, already takes care of this situation.

  • ids Feb 1, 2007

    It's already done in many places - like Wal-Mart..and they do make mistakes - they made mistakes on mine.

    Its a very good idea - however, police really need to be trained in what is child porn. the technican should just say there is a possibility and the police should do it quickly, and not let some man or woman sit in jail on a mistake..

  • seankelly15 Feb 1, 2007

    jackhiggins5280 - You seem to feel that the statute is written so specifically that it only covers true child pornography. Okay, so what about the father in your story? Or, what about two children playing in a tub who are touching each others' genitals? I barely trust the police to make proper interpretations of statutes let alone someone running an autiomated processor. You need to get your facts straight; perhaps it would help if you weren't citing Shakespere to justify your viewpoint.

  • TAO Feb 1, 2007

    "firedad79" is one of those people who simply does not understand the ideas behind freedom and liberty. Perhaps he would not be so misguided if he was "caught in the net" and looking through the steel bars that he himself supported being created. It can be very difficult for others to understand threats to freedom when the existence of that freedom reduces their apparent security. However, it is also a double-edged sword: if you give up freedom for security, you do indeed lose both, because when the government becomes free to infiltrate your life (like they aren't already?) in any aspect they so desire without a single thing to keep them in check, people get arrested for things that are different or look wrong. Law does not exist to protect the majority--the majority is protected by itself. Laws protect the minority, the unpopular and misunderstood people, those who would dare to put a crack in the system openly--Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind.

  • brand7976 Feb 1, 2007

    Only a fool would use a film camera these days. Digital is the way to go.

  • finallysingle Feb 1, 2007

    firedad79 ...SO,I guess since you and the wife are out shopping at the mall,and she has her purse,She is in the public,so shr can be searched,for no good reason.Public is Public after all.