Bill would criminalize sending indecent photos to minors

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday to hold a hearing on a bill that would make it a felony to send indecent pictures electronically to minors.

The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Frank Lombardi, D-Cranston, on behalf of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.

"We need to get our criminal laws in line with our technology," Lombardi said. "I think we need to protect our children. I'm thoroughly shocked that there's no law like this to protect our children in this regard."

But there are concerns.

"So our biggest concern is it covers a wide range of constitutionally protected activity," said Steven Brown of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Brown said while he sees the intent of the bill, he feels the way it's worded is too broad and could impede on protected speech.

"There are websites, like medical websites, that depict graphic material. They would be engaged in a felony," he said.

Lombardi said the bill specifies intent and he feels it defines specifically what comprised sexually explicit material.

"It's very fact-specific and if anyone engages in that fact-specific activity it's going to be criminalized," he said.

If the bill becomes law anyone convicted of the crime would be subject to the requirements of the state sex offender registry.

The committee voted to hold the bill for further study.

A similar bill that would outlaw so-called revenge porn was recently heard in the House Judiciary Committee.