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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: 1) by khallow on Saturday February 18 2023, @02:12PM (2 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 18 2023, @02:12PM (#1292369) Journal

    I was responding the the deadpan comment: Musk is tryin' to get you a place on Mars.

    MacGregor was tryin' just as realistically to get those investors a place in Central America. In the 1830s, it was more feasible to carve out a new colony in Central America for Europeans than it is to carve out any kind of permanent human habitat on Mars today. The ships are more capable, the terrain is less hostile, even the legal battles are easier more affordable and realistically feasible.

    I disagree, of course. MacGregor's thing was wholly fraudulent. Meanwhile SpaceX has knocked out the biggest economic obstacle between Earth and Mars - greatly dropping the price of putting things in orbit. If the Superheavy can come close to SpaceX's claimed costs, then that in turn will drop the price even more (possibly to the level where I thought a space elevator would operate at).

    Second, where has Musk attempted to con us out of money for a Martian colony? That talk might have boosted excitement for SpaceX, but nobody has been asked, much less paid for this stuff.

  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday February 18 2023, @03:29PM (1 child)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday February 18 2023, @03:29PM (#1292379)

    >MacGregor's thing was wholly fraudulent.

    That is certainly how history painted it, decades after the fact.

    How will Musk's Mars plans look in 2050?

    >greatly dropping the price of putting things in orbit.

    Call me when that is a sustained operation, instead of a prototype ship and "claims." Again, in 1820 MacGregors plans were at least as feasible as Musk's Mars is in 2022.

    >where has Musk attempted to con us out of money for a Martian colony?

    Again, it's early days. MacGregor was a charismatic businessman in his day, otherwise he wouldn't have risen to the level that he did. Check the SpaceX books in 2030 and see how many of your tax dollars have subsidized his dreamscape, directly, through tax breaks, sweetheart deals on "NASA surplus capacity" and "development incentives" for various SpaceX endeavors.

    🌻🌻 []
    • (Score: 1, Disagree) by khallow on Saturday February 18 2023, @06:38PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 18 2023, @06:38PM (#1292409) Journal

      >where has Musk attempted to con us out of money for a Martian colony?

      Again, it's early days.

      In other words, you're precriming. "Early days" means Musk hasn't so attempted. The rest of your post is an utter waste of time as a result.

      That is certainly how history painted it, decades after the fact.

      And sounds like the painting is wholly correct, right?