- Associated Press - Friday, January 22, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah lawmaker wants computer technicians to face jail time if they don’t immediately report child pornography they discover on someone’s computer.

Rep. Craig Hall, a Republican from West Valley City, said he plans to introduce the bill at the state’s legislative session, which begins Monday. He said he began working on the legislation after noticing similar laws in other states.

The proposal would require computer technicians to report child pornography to law enforcement or a federal cyber tip line if they encounter the material, but they would not be required to go searching for it. If they find it and don’t report it, they could be given up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

It would mirror laws already on the books in at least 12 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“This will help our ongoing efforts to fight the horrendous crimes of manufacturing and distributing child pornography,” Hall said.

The legislation could help prevent further dissemination of child pornography, but it is somewhat superfluous, said Dan Liutikas, of an international IT trade association called CompTIA.

“If IT folks run across child pornography, I think they would instinctively try to report that to the police,” said Liutikas.

The punishment in the other states with the law ranges from a small fine to a felony charge, said Liutikas, the chief legal officer for the association. For example, in Michigan it’s a felony to view child pornography so the penalty is up to seven years in jail and a $50,000 fine, he said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children supports the proposal, said representative Yiota Souras. The demand for and trade of child pornography images continues to grow, she said. That’s due largely to technological advances that allow people to create, possess and distribute increasingly large collections of child pornography, Souras said in an emailed statement.

The Utah bill would require computer technicians to report images or videos that depict sexually explicit conduct involving a minor, Hall said.

“A photo of a baby in the bath tub would not trigger mandatory reporting,” he said.

The law would allow computer technicians to disregard confidentiality agreements that are common with their clients, and protect them from being sued by the companies or an employee.

Liutikas says these protections are vital in these laws because they give IT workers the confidence to report.

Liutikas, who is the managing attorney at a law firm that represents IT companies, said he is not aware of any prosecution against a computer technician for not reporting child pornography.

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