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Is UT Gov. right to sign bill blocking porn on phones and tablets?

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Mar 29 04:16 pm
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Andrew (No)

It’s surprising that such a conservative state as Utah would pass a bill allowing the government to invade every citizen’s phone or tablet to moderate the content they are allowed to view. HB-72 is a gross overstep of government policing, and Governor Spencer Cox is wrong to sign it. Governor Cox stated that he “really want(s) to empower parents.” The truth is, this bill turns over the responsibility of reasonably moderating content from parents to the government, the opposite of “empowering parents.”

HB-72 would require manufacturers to automatically install the blocking software and provide adult users with a password to enable access to all content. Notably, this means that if minors can gain access to a device’s password, they can also have full access to any content they wish to see. And their parents, who potentially believe that the legislation is safeguarding them, would therefore relax supervision. In this way, the law could enable some minors to actually view more inappropriate content.

What is pornographic material? Are movies that have explicit scenes but that are intended for general audiences--like Fifty Shades of Grey--considered pornographic? Is Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Edition porn? What one person thinks to be well over the line may be mild entertainment for another; what some view as sex-positive entertainment others may find offensive. The bill states that content must have “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors” not to be caught in the filter. The government should not be deciding what has serious artistic value. The truth is, only individuals can decide what is appropriate for themselves and their children. Government regulators should keep their hands off.


Mandy (Yes)

Utah Governor Cox was right to sign the bill blocking porn access on phones and tablets. This is not the same as a blanket ban on porn, nor can it be seen as a limitation of free speech or an infringement on the right of free association. Instead, it expands on already existing laws that make providing porn to minors illegal.    

The slight inconvenience of adults having to turn off a filter if they want to watch porn will add an extra much-needed layer of protection over kids. Porn is harmful to minors' emotional, mental, and sexual development. It literally rewires the brain as drugs do. It promotes violence and unrealistic expectations of relationships. Studies show that children are exposed to porn by the age of seven. Despite proactive parenting, all it takes is one friend with access to expose another to porn when parents aren't around. And what about the kids who have neglectful parents? This law also helps protect them from being victimized.  

Pornography is extremely graphic, often featuring disturbingly violent sexual content, which children 'do not have the psychological faculties to cope with or understand,' and is akin to trauma. Adults are allowed to consent to this lifestyle, but children should not have the option until they are old enough to understand and accept the lifelong impacts of consuming porn. 

Stores cannot sell Playboy or other pornographic items to minors; at the very least technological companies should be held to the same standard. Protecting all kids, who are legally unable to consent to participate in sexual acts, should be our society's goal. This bill won't solve the problem completely, but it's a step in the right direction and will help preserve children's innocence.

Fact Box

  • Spencer Cox is the 18th governor of Utah and previously served in the House of Representatives. He is an advocate for improving the economy, helping the homeless, and promoting better education. 
  • Governor Cox signed a bill to block pornography (HB 72) on cellphones and tablets sold in Utah for the purpose of shielding children from the availability of porn. It “will not go into effect” unless five additional states sign similar laws. 
  • In 2017, PornHub tracked 28.5 billion visits, 25 billion searches, and 7,000 gigabytes of uploads per minute. 
  • The porn industry is valued at a net worth of $97 billion. In comparison, Hollywood movies make $10 billion annually. The porn industry makes more money than Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NBA combined. 
  • Most children have a phone by the age of seven, and 90% of kids had one by age 11. 
  • Children and teens are likely to stumble upon pornography with 65% of 15- and 16-year-olds reporting to have seen it, even as early as age 11. In the survey, over half of boys and 39% of girls believed porn to be a “realistic depiction of sex.”
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