Today there was an article on the Sydney Morning Herald about a man (Chris Illingworth) who has been charged for posting a video to Liveleak that has been deemed (somewhat extremely) to be of child abuse. The video contains a father swinging his child around by its arms (note: I have not actually watched the video). The video had already been on YouTube and there for the man was not opening any new windows.
He is being charged for ‘publishing child abuse material’ and the anti-pedophile squad Task Force Argos is arguing that as he ‘published’ the material to the site, he was actively and knowingly spreading this ‘child abuse material’. The question this charge raises, in particular if it sticks is where does the line get drawn?
To break it down lets run through a few scenarios -
1) James finds a video of a child falling down a ditch and the parent on the film laughs before helping the child. This, to James, is funny and sounds like a video that would be on Australia’s Funniest Home Video (Yuck). So James being a fucking idiot who think this kind of crap is humorous, posts the video to Liveleak. Unknown to him someone in the government has also seen this video and decided it is illegal material, there is no possible way for James to know this as he found it on a public site while using a work computer which filters adult material- According to the current charges this is ‘Publishing Child Abuse Material’
2) Same situation but instead of uploading the video to Liveleak James merely hyperlinks to the video in a twitter post/blog post. – Applying the same twisted theory does this mean James is guilty of ‘Distributing Child Abuse Material’?
3) Once again same scenario only this time James uploads and embeds the video onto a forum owned and operated by his friend, the forum is hosted on local servers. – Is James the only one looking as publishing charges? The servers are Australian and they are hosting material that is (unbeknownst to them) illegal. Is the forum moderator accountable also, for not immediately removing the material and reporting James to the police (despite the lack of knowledge of any wrong doing).
This situation must be remedied. If these charges stick then we are looking at a another step down the tunnel that leads to a police state, where you can be punished for doing nothing but accessing and redistributing already publically held information. We, as a nation cannot afford these charges to set a precedent.