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Home / News / Media Watch / Utah Governor signs phone porn filter law
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Utah Governor signs phone porn filter law

Smartphones and tablets will have a porn filter after the governor of Utah signed a new law meant to protect children.

The law, which was signed Tuesday, requires a filter blocking pornography on the devices which are sold in the state but it won’t go into effect for some time.

Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, signed H.B. 72 after carefully considering whether to sign or veto it.

Cox stated that the proliferation of phones has made it difficult for parents to police what their children are watching. It’s a problem that has plagued tens of millions of parents.

“I do think that pornography is a problem with it, especially with younger and younger people and what it does to their brains when they don’t have a real ability to understand and to make those choices. So really, we want to empower parents,” he said, adding, “If nothing else, it sends an important message, I think, to people that we need to do better there and then we’ll see what other states do.”

But there’s one big caveat. The law will not go into effect right away after legislators amended the bill to put off its activation until five other states approve similar laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 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,” ACLU attorney Jason Groth said.

Critics of the measure, including pornographic film performer Cherie DeVille, had called on the governor to veto the measure because it could violate residents’ First Amendment rights.

Cox has said he isn’t as worried about constitutional concerns because the proposal won’t be immediately enacted.

State Republican Rep. Susan Pulsipher, the bill’s sponsor, said she was “grateful” the governor signed the legislation, which she hopes will help parents keep their children from unintended exposure to pornography. She asserts that the measure passes constitutional muster because adults can deactivate the filters.

Eleanor Kennelly Gaetan, the director of public policy at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, was among those speaking in support of the bill during a legislative hearing.

In a blog post, Gaetan noted that Utah was the first in the nation in 2016 to pass a resolution declaring porn a public health crisis, inspiring 15 other states to do the same.

“Now Utah is again blazing an important new path with an innovative state mandate that requires porn platforms to post a warning label in front of content on their sites,” she said, adding that there is “irrefutable evidence of the public health hazards inherent in exposure to pornography, especially while the young mind is still developing.”

–Wire services

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