Two Florida teenagers, Jeremy and Amber, ages 17 and 16 respectively, boyfriend and girlfriend — snapped digital photos of themselves engaged in sexual activity. They were prosecuted under state child porn laws, and convicted. Snip from CNET story:
Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.
The case is complicated and troubling in many respects, and raises an array of tough questions. In Florida, Amber and Jeremy did not break the law by having sexual relations — even though they're both teens — but the courts decided they were criminals for having documented it digitally. Snip:
Combine unsupervised teenagers, digital cameras and e-mail, and, given sufficient time, you'll end up with risque photographs on a computer somewhere.
I think most would agree that what these kids did was exceedingly dumb, and not a wise choice for their safety or privacy. But for young people who grow up documenting *everything* in their lives digitally, then sharing it on MySpace, YouTube, their mobiles — documenting what they do sexually isn't much of a stretch. And by their logic, however flawed it may be — sharing those photos privately doesn't seem like a crime. Given the increasing prevalence of digital self-documentation, and the shrinking ages of those doing the documenting and sharing, it seems inevitable that legal conflicts like will become more common, and the job of being a parent will only become more complex. (Thanks, danah boyd)
Reader comments: Daniel Turner says,
Call it what it is, a stupid prosecutorial overreach with implications for freedom of speech and the natural right of freedom of action. Child porn laws are on the books for two reasons – one, children are horribly exploited in making such pornography, and two, people who enjoy kiddie porn pose a potential threat to other children because of their proclivities. But only one of those reasons is valid in a free society. We must not allow laws to be used to punish potential crime on the basis of expression. In this case, there was certainly no exploitation, and thus the law has turned away from justice. No matter the motivation of the prosecutor or the framers of the law, be it repressively moralistic or repressively socialistic, there was no crime committed in the actions of these teens.
Wesley Pinkham says,
It's a strange anomaly. They're charged for making child pornography and tried as adults. However, the law calls the pictures they produced child pornography, so they should be trying them as minors. Anything less than this is hypocrisy.
Sam Stein says,
I feel like this criminal prosecution also flies in the face of some
basic legal principle (which I can't quite name or put my finger on
right now): How can the state prosecute somebody for a crime when
that person is in the class of people the very criminal statute is
intended to protect?
Additionally, looking at this in a slightly different way, isn't this
prosecution pretty much akin to charging someone with attempted murder
after they survive a suicide attempt?
You have a comment posted on BoingBoing right now that indicates the
teens were prosecuted as adults (which would be REALLY outrageous
considering they legally stand as children in their role as supposed
However, I think that is incorrect. Early on in the Florida appellate
court's opinion, it mentions the person was charged as a juvenile.
I'm speechless. To use this as an argument for definitely ruining their future?