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An Iowa county attorney has worked in conjunction with their state representative to try and get ahead of a major threat staring teens in the face.

House File 2049 attempts to address sexual exploitation of a minor by the knowing use of a visual depiction of a minor to create, adapt or modify a photograph or film with the intent to falsely depict the minor engaging in a prohibited sexual act or the simulation of a prohibited sexual act.

Andrew Ritland, the Mahaska County Attorney, said he’s been working with Republican State Rep. Helena Hayes to address the issue.

Ritland said it is an “increasing problem” where people take pictures of real children and adapt them into a pornographic image to make it appear the child was involved in a pornographic act.

Those artificial images are then used to threaten minors to extort a child to provide real pornographic images in exchange for the person not to disseminate the false pornographic image.


“This is an issue which I feel very strongly we should get out in front of,” Ritland said.

The bill is focused on real children’s images being used. Completely artificially generated children acting in an artificially generated sex act is not covered by the bill.

“That is done at this point by design to ensure free speech protections are still in place,” Ritland said. “So, in this way, we hope to further protect the children of Iowa against these new technological threats and hold perpetrators accountable when they manipulate images at the cost of children. These images have a real harm.”

Because children are influenced by peer pressure, it is likely they will do whatever it takes to stop someone from spreading a pornographic image — whether it is real or fake.

Democrat State Rep. Megan Srinivas did not sign off in support of the bill. She said she would like to make sure a person who takes a photo of a health concern regarding their body and then draws or writes on the image wouldn’t get caught in such a law.

Ritland said he didn’t share those concerns because the bill is targeted at general exploitation of a minor. 

Chuck Hurley of The FAMiLY Leader said the group strongly supports the legislation and agrees the language should be exactly how lawmakers want it. When he was chair of the House Judiciary Committee in the 1990s, Hurley said they were beginning to adapt their laws to a “new thing” called the internet.

“Here we are,” he said. “Let’s try to keep Iowa somewhat kid-friendly the best we can.”

Kate Walton with the Motion Picture Association said the group is registered as undecided by has a slight modification it would like to see added to the bill.

Republican State Representatives Bill Gustoff and Charley Thomson advanced the bill through subcommittee.


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Author: Jacob Hall


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