Under Illinois law, the age of consent for any type of sexual activity is, typically, 17 years.This means anyone younger than 17 years of age cannot lawfully consent to any type of sex act involving sexual conduct.While kids feel like they’ve been grownups for years, their parents remain on the “You’re not old enough yet” side.
However, Justice Rita Garman wrote for the majority that “there are rational, reasonable arguments in support of having a higher age threshold for appearance in pornography than for consent to sexual activity.” These include the view that “[m]emorialization of the sexual act makes permanent an intimate encounter that can then be distributed to third parties. It will always be out there, hanging over the head of the person depicted performing the sexual act.” The majority, however, made a critical decision in the standard of review — rejecting the claims of protected speech in the act of photographing intimate conduct. This low standard followed a concession by the defense counsel that no fundamental constitutional rights, including first amendment rights, were implicated in the case. Moreover, the state can argue that sextexting has become a serious problem among minors.
These concerns are exacerbated in the modern digital age, where once a picture or video is uploaded to the Internet, it can never be completely erased or eradicated . Yet, while I thought the majority had some strong points, there are first amendment concerns raised by the criminalization of photos if they are purely consensual and private. No one would seriously disagree with the criminalization of taking such photos for commercial purposes or for distribution.
Those sites that do conduct background checks, but continue to let people with shady pasts keep their memberships, must tell users their screenings are not fool proof.
The Illinois Supreme Court handed down an interesting decision on Thursday where it ruled that it was not illegal for an adult man to have sex with a 17-year-old girl but it was illegal to film it.
The issue of purely private photos however raises a tough question in my mind.