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Porn could be automatically blocked on ALL cell phones and iPads in Utah

Pornography could be automatically blocked on all cellphones and iPads sold in Utah if the state’s new Republican Governor signs a proposal being pushed by conservative lawmakers. 

Gov. Spencer Cox, who assumed office in January, has not yet indicated whether he will sign proposal, which was passed by the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature last month. 

He  has until next Thursday, March 25, to make a decision. 

Supporters argue that the restriction is a critical step to help parents keep explicit content away from their kids – especially as more children have their own electronic devices and have been forced to spend more time online during the pandemic.

But detractors say the proposal is unconstitutional and would be a significant intrusion on free speech.

Pornography could be automatically blocked on all new cellphones and iPads sold in Utah if the state’s new Republican Governor Spencer Cox (pictured) signs a proposal being pushed by conservative lawmakers

Supporters argue that the restriction is a critical step to help parents keep explicit content away from their kids - especially as more children have their own electronic devices and have been forced to spend more time online during the pandemic

Supporters argue that the restriction is a critical step to help parents keep explicit content away from their kids – especially as more children have their own electronic devices and have been forced to spend more time online during the pandemic

However, even if Cox signs the measure, it will not go into effect unless five other states also enact similar laws – a provision that was added to the proposal after manufacturers and retailers voiced concerns that it would be difficult to implement filters for a single state.

But there is some precedent for other states following in Utah’s footsteps, so the proposal is not entirely out of the question.

More than a dozen states advanced resolutions to declare porn a public-health crisis after Utah became the first to do so in 2016.

Combating porn is a perennial issue for conservative Utah lawmakers who have previously mandated warning labels on print and online pornography.

Almost 72 percent of Utah’s 1.8 million residents are Mormon, and the state is known for having a generally conservative culture. Leaders of the predominant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith have also drawn attention to what they consider the harms of pornography.

Utah lawmakers have voted to require every cellphone and tablet sold there to automatically block pornography. The proposal will now go to Gov. Spencer Cox

Utah lawmakers have voted to require every cellphone and tablet sold there to automatically block pornography. The proposal will now go to Gov. Spencer Cox 

The proposal was sponsored by Republican Rep. Susan Pulsipher, and focuses primarily on prohibiting children from viewing X-rated materials by imposing a filter. Adults would be able to turn off the automatic filter if they consented.   

If the bill is signed into law, any manufacturer who does not abide by the law could receive a civil penalty ranging from $10 to $500.

Rep. Susan Pulsipher has acknowledged it is not a complete solution, as minors may find ways around the filtering system. 

‘A child that wants to find pornography and tries to would probably be able to still. It’s just one step in the right direction,’ she stated. 

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, an anti-porn group, cheered the bill, saying that while many electronic devices come with filters installed, turning them on can be challenging for parents.

‘Utah has passed a critical, common sense solution to help protect vulnerable children from accessing harmful pornographic content on phones and tablets,’ Executive Director Dawn Hawkins said in a statement to the Associated Press. 

Meanwhile, Boston University professor Emily Rothman, says research has raised questions about how pornography shapes children’s attitudes about sex, and content filters can be an important tool in keeping children from being exposed before it is healthy. 

The proposal was sponsored by Republican Rep. Susan Pulsipher. She has acknowledged it is not a complete solution, as minors may find ways around the filtering system

The proposal was sponsored by Republican Rep. Susan Pulsipher. She has acknowledged it is not a complete solution, as minors may find ways around the filtering system

However, Samir Jain, policy director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington, D.C.-based internet policy group, says the proposal raises a myriad of concerns. 

‘You’ve basically got the state mandating the filtering of lawful content. That raises immediate First Amendment flags,’ Jain stated.

Jain also claims that the bill as written could apply to any device ‘activated’ in Utah, raising the possibility that it could require location tracking to activate filters on the phones of anyone coming into the state. 

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah said the bill is an overreach that imposes the same standards on everyone.

‘Parental filters already exist,’ attorney Jason Groth told the Associated Press. 

‘Every Utah parent can already decide the level of access for their children.’         


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