Pa. bill would set penalties for porn on state computers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – State employees who use their work computers and cell phones to view or exchange pornography would face jail time and fines under a new bill pending in the Pennsylvania legislature.

Rep. John Payne said he introduced his legislation in response to a pornographic email scandal involving the state attorney general’s office.

Payne’s proposal, House Bill 780, would make it a third-degree misdemeanor for a commonwealth employee to knowingly use a state-owned computer network or cell phone to send or view sexually explicit materials unless required by their official duties.

The crime would be a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

There is an exception for employees who view offensive material without prior knowledge of its content if they notify their supervisor immediately and do not forward the mail to anyone else.

Payne said most state agencies have policies that prohibit pornographic emails, but no state laws ban the “blatant misuse of taxpayer-funded assets” and set penalties for violations.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced last year that hundreds of pornographic emails were exchanged by dozens of former and current employees of the state attorney general’s office from 2008 to 2012. She said the mails were discovered during a review of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse investigation.

Five former staffers resigned from their new jobs after Kane released their names and redacted copies of the emails, including three members of then-governor Tom Corbett’s administration, and at least four staffers still employed by the AG’s office were fired in November.

State Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery resigned in October after he was suspended by the Judicial Conduct Board over allegations he had sent numerous emails containing pornography to an agent in the attorney general’s office.

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