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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 mcgrew on Saturday February 18 2023, @10:05PM (1 child)

    by mcgrew (701) <> on Saturday February 18 2023, @10:05PM (#1292458) Homepage Journal

    That's a form of schizophrenia, and there may be effective treatments. The guy should seek help.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday February 18 2023, @10:58PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday February 18 2023, @10:58PM (#1292466)

    I believe it had been suggested, I was mostly concerned about getting some distance.

    Years earlier I had a job applicant who included their personal website on their resume, so I took a look and there right up front was "Click here to read about my MkUltra experience." So I did. Long story short: he believes he was personally targeted by the program several years earlier and is still suffering from actions of the program personally targeting him at the time of his application (2007). His personal accounts were largely consistent with descriptions of the MkUltra program you can find on Wikipedia and many other places, not copied, they were episodes in his own life. Oh, and MkUltra is reputed to induct new targets from friends and coworkers of existing targets.

    Option A: the applicant is nuttier than a fruitcake, and we don't want him working for us.

    Option B: he's not paranoid, they really are out to get him, and as his coworkers they might come for us next, in which case we really don't want him working for us.

    I don't see any scenario where such nearly direct disclosure of his MkUltra experience would be beneficial in his chances of employment, and we were looking for logical thinkers, programmers, so no, no interview for him. Maybe if we were looking for creative writers I might have offered to meet him, clandestinely.

    🌻🌻 []