South Carolina bill would block porn on all devices sold in the state

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Lawmakers behind the bill say they are protecting children.

It may be about to get a lot more difficult to browse porn in South Carolina.

State Reps. Bill Chumley and Mike Burns have co-sponsored a bill that would require any computer, tablet, or smartphone sold in South Carolina to come with a porn filter unless you pay a $20 fee to buy a device without it. 

The bill is called the Human Trafficking Prevention Act (HTPA) because the $20 fee would go to South Carolina’s Attorney General’s Office’s human-trafficking task force, which works across the state to find solutions on human trafficking. 

HTPA specifically seeks to protect children from obscenity, prevent consumers from ‘stumbling into child pornography,’ and decrease human trafficking. From the bill:

“Manufacturers and Wholesalers of products that distribute and/or make accessible content on the internet within the State of South Carolina amount to miniature retail stores that are an extension to the primary Manufacturer and Wholesaler. Henceforth, Manufacturers’ and Wholesalers’ that sell products that distribute and/or make content on the internet available shall install custom made and activated digital blinder racks that filter obscenity.”

Section 6 of HTPA outlines that a manufacturer or wholesaler can only disable the filter if the people requesting verify that they’re not minors, pay a $20 fee, and consent to deactivation after a ‘written warning’ of ‘potential danger of filter deactivation,’ which presumably refers to existential or moral danger rather than physical or security-based danger from the device purchased.

Though this law, if passed, would clearly violate some First Amendment rights, the language in the bill claims:

“This matter is not about free speech, it is about allowing consumers the right to regulate their own ‘mental health.’ The real freedom of speech interest comes from giving consumers the upfront liberty to choose whether or not they are subjected to unwanted exposure to pornography instead of allowing the Tech Enterprise to patronizingly make that choice for them, in the name of ‘freedom’ when it is not.”

Chumley and Burns don’t want patronizing techies to make decisions for them, but they’re completely OK with making decisions affecting the lives of LGBTQ people: Both lawmakers also co-sponsored the South Carolina Natural Marriage Defense Act, which aims to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

HTPA will be considered when the state’s legislature returns to session in January.

IRL
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