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What are the Federal and Tn state laws about pornography, specifically child pornography, on the internet?

Knoxville, TN |

I read about arrests of individuals for the violation of pornography laws at both the state and federal levels, but few details as to the means used to identify these individuals as purveyors or violators of laws, and little information about the law violated. I find the average person to be very uninformed about this area of the law. The various media especially the internet is teaming with all kinds of sexual material and has sites that cater to sexual interests of all types and discussions of these interests by the site administrators or the participants themselves. However, no where have I seen the public who visit these sites, warned of the possibility of violating laws by the inclusion of citations or actual text of laws that apply and/or at lest a legal paraphrasing of laws to aide the viewer in deciding if they are legal in what they do on these sites. It would seem that this would be a requirement to the majority of visitors to the sites who may not intentionally know or desire to violate any pornography laws especially those dealing with underage. I would also think that there is a certain privacy guarantees that protects viewers of secure sites under the First Amendment.

Attorney Answers 1


  1. Not all 'speech' is guaranteed protection under the 1st Amendment. Traditionally, speech which tends to promote violence, incite a riot, and which violates the standards of the community for a prurient interest with no social, artistic or redeeming value (pornography). When one surfs the net, and downloads images onto his or her computer, one should be careful what images they are viewing, and even more careful of what they download and store. Do you seriously expect a web site that is knowingly sending images of child pornography to warn you in advance that they are doing so? I am not aware of any civilized country that allows for the sexual exploitation of children in pictures or otherwise. The legitimate sites will warn viewers in advance that there is sexually explicit material, that the participants are at least 18 yrs of age, and that the viewer must be at least 18 to view the material.
    Given that I am the 163rd person to view this question, with no one answering it previously, I must conclude that my fellow lawyers feel as I do, that child pornography is an abomination, and is not worthy of Constitutional protection of any sort as a form of expression. Of course, the government must not violate one's rights under the 4th Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure of one's houses, papers and effects in their quest to stamp out this social ill. They must have either a valid search warrant, or probable cause with an exigent circumstance that would excuse the warrant requirment in order to seize the computer and material therein.