No porn for you, South Carolina, if newly proposed bill becomes law

The proposed Human Trafficking Prevent Act would block porn on newly purchased computers, tablets and phones capable of accessing the internet

No porn for you, South Carolina, if newly proposed bill becomes law

If two state representatives get their way and their newly proposed law moves forward, then people in South Carolina will be blocked from accessing online porn after purchasing a new device.

There are many missing pieces to fully explain how porn blocking would work under the Human Trafficking Prevent Act, and reading the bill doesn’t make it any clearer. However, the bill sponsors—Reps. Bill Chumley (R-Spartanburg) and Mike Burns (R-Greenville)—wrote that porn is a “public health hazard” and viewing porn online has impacted the “demand for human trafficking and prostitution.”

They proposed a “narrowly tailored, common sense filter system” to stop South Carolinians from accessing porn on all computers, tablets and phones capable of internet access. Doing so, to the representatives’ way of thinking, would allegedly fight the demand for human trafficking and still manage to balance “the consumer’s fundamental right to regulate his own mental health.”

Chumley told GoUpstate, “If we could have manufacturers install filters that would be shipped to South Carolina, then anything that children have access on for pornography would be blocked.”

Deactivating the filter: pay fee and register

The proposed law says the filter can be deactivated after the consumer submits an ID proving he or she is at least 18, submits the request in writing, signs a written warning about the dangers of deactivating the porn block and pays a $20 “digital access fee.”

While I’m not a fan of human trafficking or porn, it doesn’t seem reasonable that people wanting access to it should go into a database somewhere in South Carolina after paying the porn-access fee.

Manufacturers or businesses selling computers don’t get to pocket the $20 fee, as the “digital access fee or the opt-out fee” goes “to the Attorney General to help fund the operations of the Human Trafficking Task Force and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.”

Although the sellers of the devices going to or in South Carolina won’t make any money for enabling “an active and operating digital blocking capability that renders any obscenity,” they are subject to criminal liability for failing to enable the porn-blocking filters.

Additionally, sellers of devices that can access the internet must make “reasonable and ongoing efforts” to make sure the obscenity-blocking filters function properly to “ensure all child pornography and revenge pornography is inaccessible on the product” and “prohibit the product from accessing any hub that facilitates prostitution,” as well as block websites that are “known to facilitate any trafficking of persons.”

Not only must the porn-blocking filter be enabled, but the “business, manufacturer, wholesaler, or individual” must also include a reporting mechanism—be it a website or call center—so consumers can report content that should be blocked, as well as blocked content that is not obscene. Any site that is blocked but should not be must be unblocked no later than five business days after it is reported.

Gizmodo wanted more details: “Most importantly, how is this not an infringement on some pretty basic First Amendment rights?” Yet the representatives blew off reporter Matt Novak when he tried to get answers.

Chumley described the bill as a “beginning point,” but changes may be made once the legislation is debated in a 2017 session. He told GoUpstate.com, “It’s where almost everybody has access to a computer now. It’s porn on demand. We have to start somewhere. … We’re bringing attention to it. We’re not being political. It’s an issue I’m pretty passionate about.”

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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