Utah passes law to ban porn from all phones


Spencer Cox, the Republican governor of Utah, on Tuesday signed a legislation that makes it mandatory for all cellphones and tablets sold in the state to automatically filter porn sites.

The move, critics say, is an intrusion on free speech while those who are in support of the legislation claim that this is an important step in protecting children from porn. Last week, the House committee sparred over the proposal that the state’s conservative governor signed into law.

Local Utah reporters tweeted that he also vetoed the social media moderation bill that, “would have required social media companies to more clearly state their moderation terms and explain why posts are removed for violating them.”

The porn filter legislation requires that all cell phone and tablet manufacturers that intend to sell in Utah use content filters to block porn. This means that manufacturers who don’t use filters could now face up to $2000 in fines, according to reports. The manufacturers can also face a penalty if any child is exposed to “harmful material.”

This isn’t the first time that Utah has taken measures to block porn. Lawmakers have previously called porn a public health crisis and mandated that print and online adult content have warning labels.

Free speech activists have said that this law violates first amendment rights. In a letter published in the Daily Beast, adult film star Cherie DeVille said that it “would create more than a slippery slope for free speech, it would form a deadly slope that would send Utah residents’ civil liberties off a hill.”

Governor Cox, according to news reports, said that this “measure would send an important message about preventing children from accessing explicit online content.” The proposal is the latest move in Utah’s legislative campaign to curb the availability of porn in the state.

However, the measure won’t go into effect, reports said, “unless five other states enact similar laws, a provision that was added to address concerns that it would be difficult to implement.”

According to local news, attorney Jason Groth of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah said “the constitutionality of the bill was not adequately considered and that it will likely be argued in court. This is another example of the Legislature dodging the constitutional impacts of the legislation they pass.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cox has said he isn’t as worried about constitutional concerns because the proposal won’t be immediately enacted. Local reporters quoted him as saying that “they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it.”

Republican representative Susan Pulsipher said she was “grateful” the governor signed the legislation, which she hopes will “help parents keep their children from unintended exposure to pornography.”

Combating porn is a perennial issue for Utah lawmakers, who are predominantly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There is some precedent for other states following Utah’s example on porn restrictions. More than a dozen states advanced similar resolutions to declare porn a public health crisis after Utah became the first to do so in 2016.

On social media, people called the porn filter legislation a “stupid and unconstitutional effort.” Others said that this “does absolutely nothing but give people a reason to pat their own backs.”



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