Duty to Report Images of Child Pornography

Texas law requires computer technicians who, in the course and scope of employment or business, view an image on a computer that is or appears to be child pornography to immediately report the discovery of the image to a local or state law enforcement agency.  Therefore, all SMU employees who install, repair, or otherwise service computers during the course and scope of their employment should be familiar with this law pertaining to reporting images of child pornography.

Texas Mandatory Reporting Law

Chapter 110 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code now requires computer technicians to immediately report images of child pornography to local or state law enforcement.  The report may also be made to the Cyber Tipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  The report must include the name and address of the owner or person claiming a right to possess the computer. 

Texas law defines “child pornography” as an image of a child engaging in sexual conduct or sexual performance.

Texas law defines “computer technician” as an individual who in the course and scope of employment or business installs, repairs, or otherwise services a computer for a fee.

Intentionally failing to report an image in violation of the law is a Class B misdemeanor.

It is a defense to prosecution under the law that the actor did not report the discovery of an image of child pornography because the child in the image appeared to be at least 18 years of age.

Implication for SMU Employees

  • If you discover an image that appears to be child pornography while installing, repairing, or otherwise servicing a computer, you must immediately report the incident to the SMU Police Department.  If you feel there is an immediate threat, call 911.  Make sure you note the name and address of the owner or person who possesses the computer. 
  • Merely reporting the incident to your supervisor or manager is insufficient.
  • Do not try to investigate or confront the owner or person possessing the computer yourself.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of child safety and report the incident.

Do not hesitate to contact the SMU Office of Legal Affairs if you have a question or if you need further information.

Office of Legal Affairs

Phone: 214-768-3233
Fax: 214-768-1281
Email: ola@smu.edu

Perkins Administration Building Suite 130

Disclaimer

Information on this website is provided by the SMU Office of Legal Affairs for the benefit of the faculty, staff, and students of the SMU community. It is not intended as legal advice or as an opinion on specific circumstances. The attorneys of the SMU Office of Legal Affairs are available to assist you in working through any of these topics, as well as a variety of other university-related matters.