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posted by janrinok on Thursday February 16 2023, @07:03PM   Printer-friendly

Opponents say laws preventing underage porn access are vague, pose privacy risks:

After decades of America fretting over minors potentially being overexposed to pornography online, several states are suddenly moving fast in 2023 to attempt to keep kids off porn sites by passing laws requiring age verification.

Last month, Louisiana became the first state to require an ID from residents to access pornography online. Since then, seven states have rushed to follow in Louisiana's footsteps. According to a tracker from Free Speech Coalition, Florida, Kansas, South Dakota, and West Virginia introduced similar laws, and laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Virginia are seemingly closest to passing. If passed, some of these laws could be enforced promptly, while some bills in states like Florida and Mississippi specify that they wouldn't take effect until July.

But not every state agrees that rushing to require age verification is the best solution. Today, a South Dakota committee voted to defer voting on its age verification bill until the last day of the legislative session. The bill's sponsor, Republican Jessica Castleberry, seemingly failed to persuade the committee of the urgency of passing the law, saying at the hearing that "this is not your daddy's Playboy. Extreme, degrading, and violent pornography is only one click away from our children." She told Ars that the bill was not passed because some state lawmakers were too "easily swayed by powerful lobbyists."

"It's a travesty that unfettered access to pornography by minors online will continue in South Dakota because of lobbyists protecting the interests of their clients, versus legislators who should be protecting our children," Castleberry told Ars. "The time to pass this bill was in the mid-1990s."

Lobbyists opposing the bill at the hearing represented telecommunications and newspaper associations. Although the South Dakota bill, like the Louisiana law, exempted news organizations, one lobbyist, Justin Smith, an attorney for the South Dakota Newspaper Association, argued that the law was too vague in how it defined harmful content and how it defined which commercial entities could be subjected to liabilities.

"We just have to be careful before we put things like this into law with all of these open-ended questions that put our South Dakota businesses at risk," Smith said at the hearing. "We would ask you to defeat the bill in its current form."

These laws work by requiring age verification of all users, imposing damages on commercial entities found to be neglecting required age verification and distributing content to minors online that has been deemed to be inappropriate. The laws target online destinations where more than a third of the content is considered harmful to minors. Opponents in South Dakota anticipated that states that pass these laws, as Louisiana has, will struggle to "regulate the entire Internet." In Arkansas, violating content includes "actual, simulated, or animated displays" of body parts like nipples or genitals, touching or fondling of such body parts, as well as sexual acts like "intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation, excretory functions," or other sex acts deemed to have no "literary, artistic, political, or scientific value to minors."

When Louisiana's law took effect last month, Ars verified how major porn sites like Pornhub quickly complied. It seems likely that if new laws are passed in additional states, popular sites will be prepared to implement additional controls to block regional access to minors.


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  • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Thursday February 16 2023, @09:52PM (12 children)

    by Mykl (1112) on Thursday February 16 2023, @09:52PM (#1292069)

    First off the bat, I get where the legislators are coming from. I don't think that anyone here actually believes that minors should be able to access the sort of smut material you can easily find online today. As TFS says "This is not your daddy's Playboy". The problem is in coming up with a solution that doesn't create massive collateral damage.

    Back in the old days (pre-Internet), anonymous access to porn was pretty easy and anonymous provided you were over 18. Go to a brick-and-mortar store (newsagent, service station, specialty store) and buy over the counter with cash. ID may have been required at the point of purchase, but was never recorded.

    These days adults have a legitimate concern about the collection of their data and tracking of activities, seedy or not. And age verification, once disconnected from physical location, is only as strong as the weakest link across the world. As has been stated, there's little point in banning stuff in one state if a VPN can just get you access in another state (or country). And under-18s have access to VPNs just as much as adults. Further, we all know that the puritanism of certain political parties in the US will doubtless lead to persecution of individuals further down the track simply for their viewing preferences.

    IMHO, there's really no workable solution to the problem, other than providing families with the tools to monitor/restrict the use of devices by their kids. The rest is up to them. Will this miss a heap of kids? Of course it will.

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Thursday February 16 2023, @10:18PM (8 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 16 2023, @10:18PM (#1292073) Journal

    Yeah, but - parenting.

    How many people actually monitor their kid's use of the internet? One in one thousand? One in ten thousand? I've just introduced some children to the internet. Their Android notebook is locked down tight. Each and every time they wish to visit a site, a parent in the group must authorize that site. A parent must authorize any app before it is installed. The children are going to see NOTHING that Mother, Father, Grandmother, or Grandfather doesn't authorize.

    Parenting. Think of it. Because few parents are willing to actually parent, this issue has come up. "How do we keep the children from seeing porn?" Just lock the kids down until they are at least 15 years old. Past about 15, forget locking the kids down, it ain't gonna work. Until then, practice parenting.

    --
    ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Thursday February 16 2023, @11:02PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday February 16 2023, @11:02PM (#1292084)

      I didn't teach my (now 19 year old) son about incognito mode, he figured that one out all on his own when he was about 12. When he was about 11 I casually observed him browsing pictures and videos of girls who looked like his kindergarten crush, all grown up and naked. I explained to him how much trouble that videos like that can cause, how upset his mother would be if she saw him watching them, how inappropriate it is to do that in front of other people any time anywhere, etc. First time his mother "caught" him closing an incognito mode window was last week after she walked in his bedroom without knocking, she can only guess what might have been on the screen.

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by MIRV888 on Friday February 17 2023, @01:43AM

      by MIRV888 (11376) on Friday February 17 2023, @01:43AM (#1292099)

      I could have side stepped my parents restrictions on all things technology by the time I was 11. If a kid decides they want some porn, there are many ways beyond a locked down tablet to get it. You're kidding yourself if you think kids can't access the web somewhere else.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by janrinok on Friday February 17 2023, @07:48AM (5 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 17 2023, @07:48AM (#1292135) Journal

      Each and every time they wish to visit a site, a parent in the group must authorize that site.

      I suspect that you are doing this for all of the right reasons. But I would rather teach my child responsibility for his/her actions.

      Imagine a child doing his homework or looking for information on something that interests them, perhaps a hobby or a toy. He (or she) wants to use Google to research something. Are all the results banned? Does he need to have an adult approve each and every link individually? Say he finds a link about the Civil War, which also mentions slavery. Perhaps the adult denies that slavery every existed or was somehow deserved because her Representative has expressed that view so many times, or the adult attends a 'white' Christian church. All that happens is that the child is spoon-fed a particular set of 'truths'. The child is being indoctrinated and nobody seems to realise it. The child also learns that there will always be a higher authority from whom he must seek permission for his thoughts.

      We let children know about murders, shootings and rapes - they are in every newspaper and on every TV channel. Are children to be forbidden from ever having access to those sources too? I know of the dangers that porn presents to young and impressionable people. But your child should also be brought up to recognise that you think that pornography is wrong and that it is something that he/she should not be looking at (at least until they are old enough to make their own judgements). Blocking EVERY site is simply teaching them that they hold no responsibility for what they view on their tablet, nor must they have their own original thoughts. Somebody else has always got to approve it and it is their problem.

      Just like demanding IDs to look at porn. Somebody else wants to control what you and your children do. After all, you are also banned until you 'prove' who you are, and that must be stored somewhere unless you have to show an ID for EVERY url that you look at. Do you really think that such control is acceptable? If you accept it for porn how long will it be until the same States demand it for other 'thought crimes' too?

      Parenting isn't easy, and almost impossible to get right all the time, but technical solutions to the problems that a child faces and the decisions they must make while growing up are not the answer. Proper parenting is - even if you sometimes get it wrong.

      --
      I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
      • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Friday February 17 2023, @09:58AM (4 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 17 2023, @09:58AM (#1292143) Journal

        Does he need to have an adult approve each and every link individually?

        Each and every site has to be approved. Once on the site, the child can navigate the site.

        All that happens is that the child is spoon-fed a particular set of 'truths'.

        We're talking about small children here, not young teens. Yes, they are spoon-fed pablum. At some point, the reins will be loosened, but that is a ways down the road. We won't have six year old children discussing the finer points of the kama sutra.

        they are in every newspaper and on every TV channel.

        Newspapers are history, and we don't have television. The children's entertainment is all filtered through parents and grandparents at any rate.

        Just like demanding IDs to look at porn.

        You know - that's pretty accurate. The difference, of course, is that we are parents and grandparents. And, the assholes at the state capitol may be parents and grandparents - but they aren't my parents or grandparents. When our small people reach about age 13 or 14, I'll be happy to teach them to circumvent all the security bullshit on my network. That will be soon after I teach them to install alternate OSs on their machines, teach them about advertising, and how to avoid it, etc etc. The younger children will remain locked down. IMO, that's kind of the way parenting is supposed to work. Mom and Dad set the rules, slowly loosening those rules as the children grow up.

        --
        ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
        • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Friday February 17 2023, @01:28PM (3 children)

          by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 17 2023, @01:28PM (#1292157) Journal

          I suppose that it depends on your definition of small children. When children are old enough to go to school without an adult accompanying them then they are old enough to have their own device, be that a tablet, cell phone or whatever, but not before.

          --
          I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
          • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Friday February 17 2023, @08:45PM (2 children)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 17 2023, @08:45PM (#1292269) Journal

            So, first grade students should be entitled to a cell phone? Interesting. But preschool, kindergarden, day care, etc gets no phone. Of maybe I'm relying on my own decades old experience too much. At age 5, I started first grade - no preschool, head start, or any of that other stuff. I walked 1/2 mile to the bus stop, by myself. No adult supervision until I got on the bus. If a child today was accepted into 1st grade with no other previous schooling, would you say he should have a phone? I know, that's probably irrelevant.

            I think that I'm unwilling to allow a child to use the internet unsupervised, until he has entered puberty. That kinda depends on the child - any semi-observant parent knows which of his children is less trustworthy. One child, I might buy, or allow to buy a cell phone at 12 or 13, another I might not permit him to have a phone until 14 or 15. Around the time they start dating, it's time to give them their own choice.

            --
            ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
            • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday February 18 2023, @07:41AM (1 child)

              by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 18 2023, @07:41AM (#1292342) Journal

              I did not go away from the house unsupervised until I was 8 or 9 years old. I could play with other children but we weren't allowed to go more than, say, a mile from the front door. I could visit a river, woods, and fields all within that distance quite easily. And this was around the same time and place as the Moors Murderers [wikipedia.org] and their like were around.

              I didn't need a cell phone. But if you are talking about a cell phone and not a tablet (my tablet does not have a 'phone connection although it can connect to wifi) then your site blocking is of limited value. How will you stop incoming phone calls, which might contain images or even short clips sent by other people, your child's friends perhaps? If you think that they will not be able to see pornography then you are in for a shock. Won't your child still be able to communicate with strangers? If they have been raised properly they will know about responsibility for their actions and hopefully begin to make intelligent decisions for themselves rather than have to seek your permission before they can answer the phone.

              We all parent differently - you can choose to do it however you wish.

              I have to agree with others in this discussion. From here in Europe we find it bizarre that you can accept "shooter drills' being necessary for kindergarten children, yet they mustn't see the natural body parts of another person regardless of what activity that person is engaged. I wonder which has killed the most children in the USA so far this year. Oh, that is a difficult one to answer.......

              --
              I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
              • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Saturday February 18 2023, @02:23PM

                by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 18 2023, @02:23PM (#1292372) Journal

                I have to agree with others in this discussion. From here in Europe we find it bizarre that you can accept "shooter drills' being necessary for kindergarten children, yet they mustn't see the natural body parts of another person regardless of what activity that person is engaged. I wonder which has killed the most children in the USA so far this year. Oh, that is a difficult one to answer.......

                I can agree with that. We do have too much censorship, and the censorship is way off target.

                Back to devices though. No, I'm not going to encourage any pre-pubescent child to have a cell phone. Something like True Caller will help to filter out trash, but it isn't really suitable for children. https://www.truecaller.com/download [truecaller.com]

                A locked down tablet is sufficient for pre-pubescents, and when they reach an age when a phone is considered necessary, then we'll look at possible solutions. I think most telco family plans offer filtering, we'll have to look at that.

                But, the fact is, you can't really keep a child locked down forever. Hopefully, by the time the kid is ready for a phone, you've instilled some values in the child, and they will accept your limits. If not - well - life happens.

                --
                ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday February 16 2023, @10:59PM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday February 16 2023, @10:59PM (#1292083)

    >anonymous access to porn was pretty easy and anonymous provided you were over 18

    You are talking about the "official rules" where you could walk into a convenience store and buy the material yourself with your own money.

    I'm not aware of a single student in my high school (in the 1980s) who was unable to get a look inside of Penthouse magazine by the age of 12, pretty much as often as they cared to outside of brick throwing range from their mothers.

    The same applies today: if you're going to give your 4 year old a smart phone, you're going to need to do some education and steering regarding the content they browse online. In my experience, anything that is "banned" is generally the most sought after, and found, content that children will consume. Far better to sit down with them in a non-confrontational exchange, calmly explain what's going on with what they're looking at, why they shouldn't do that around other people (because of how upset the other people would get, and why), suggest replacement content which they might be more interested in anyway, etc. As soon as you turn purple, freak out, scream NO!, etc. that's just going to get them coming back for more.

    Or, you can threaten your children with beatings, etc. if you EVER catch them doing anything like that ever again, and produce another generation like what we've got in the state legislatures today.

    --
    🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Mykl on Friday February 17 2023, @02:50AM (1 child)

      by Mykl (1112) on Friday February 17 2023, @02:50AM (#1292105)

      I'm not aware of a single student in my high school (in the 1980s) who was unable to get a look inside of Penthouse magazine by the age of 12, pretty much as often as they cared to outside of brick throwing range from their mothers

      Agreed - I include myself in that category too.

      The difference is that the material in Playboy / Penthouse was quite different to what's on offer today. I don't care if my kids see pictures of naked women. If all we were talking about were online versions of what most kids saw in the 80's then I wouldn't bother doing anything at all. What kids can access today online though (same as everyone else) is significantly more impactful, and not healthy for minds that don't yet properly understand real human sexual relationships.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Friday February 17 2023, @12:25PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday February 17 2023, @12:25PM (#1292151)

        >The difference is that the material in Playboy / Penthouse was quite different to what's on offer today. I don't care if my kids see pictures of naked women.

        See, now, your mother did care because Penthouse depicted "raunchy, disrespectful, harmful" images of things she was never exposed to as "normal" or entertainment.

        Long before we regulate porn, I think we need to come to terms with why it is acceptable mainstream entertainment to show people being kidnapped, imprisoned, bound, drugged, blown up, beaten, shot, slashed, stabbed, tortured and otherwise engaged in brutal violence with or usually without visible consequences, etc. I am fairly certain all of the above has been shown on prime time broadcast television, certainly cable, and "PG-13" cinema.

        Answer, clearly and logically, why that is acceptable and people engaged in consensual acts of non injurious pleasure is unacceptable for viewing? I know some porn goes beyond that, but you do remember Daniel Craig as James Bond getting his testicles bashed to a bloody pulp and asking for more?

        --
        🌻🌻 [google.com]