Under the proposed legislation, anyone who downloads or distributes child pornography could face civil action on top of criminal charges and could be sued by the victims for $150,000 per photograph. That amount could be even higher for people convicted of distribution.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who has devoted a fair part of his first year in office focusing on child pornography, introduced the proposed legislation in February.
"Every time an image of child pornography is downloaded, viewed or distributed, a child's sexual abuse is continued on the Internet for these individuals' ghastly appreciation," McCollum said in a news release. "Until now, these children have not been treated as victims of crime in state courts, and Florida would be the first state in the nation to correct this glaring oversight."
The news release said the Exploited Children's Rights Act would make Florida the first state to allow victims of Florida-based child pornography to seek civil remedies against those who download images of the victim's sexual abuse.
The proposed legislation also would allow the Attorney General's Office to pursue these cases on behalf of the victims at their request.