STATE – State Sen. Kevin O’Toole is pushing for the passage of a bill he sponsored that would make it illegal for people to photograph children without parental consent. Following news reports of a Watchung man allegedly videotaping children in a Hope amusement park bathroom, the Republican lawmaker called upon Senate Judiciary Chairman Nicholas Scutari to immediately post his bill for a vote.
“Under no circumstances should any child be unknowingly videotaped, photographed or otherwise recorded without parental consent,” O’Toole said. “This legislation reflects our paramount responsibility as legislators to ensure the safest possible atmosphere for children and provides authorities with greater resources and prosecution power to protect our children.”
O’Toole’s S-713 makes it a third-degree crime to under any circumstances record a minor without parental consent. Under current invasion of privacy law, it is a third-degree crime to record minors’ private body parts or their engagement in an act of sexual penetration or contact. It is also a third-degree crime to distribute such recordings.
The bill had previously been introduced in the last legislative session, but it never made it out of committee. During a May 2011 hearing by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Lauren James Weir, an attorney for the New Jersey Press Association, spoke against the bill. She argued that it was “overly broad” and said that its vague standards would have a chilling effect on free speech.
“The bill also imposes a duty on a newspaper to verify the age of every person who is photographed or recorded, whether that person is the focus of the image or a person in the background,” she said.
O’Toole just sees his bill as a way to protect children from pedophiles. “People who even attempt to endanger the welfare of children must know that such despicable acts will be met with criminal charges and serious jail time.”