Will Utah ban porn on phones permanently? GOP’s motion for adult content trolled: ‘Ban what Candace Owens is watching’

The new bill, if made law, will require manufacturers to install an automatic software filter for all pornographic content that can be disabled by adults


                            Will Utah ban porn on phones permanently? GOP’s motion for adult content trolled: ‘Ban what Candace Owens is watching’
After Utah's 2016 resolution, more than a dozen states passed similar resolutions declaring porn a 'public health crisis' (Getty Images)

Porn could soon be much harder to access if you live in Utah. The State Senate has approved bill HB72, which would force device manufacturers to install anti-porn software. Introduced by Republican Rep Susan Pulsipher, the bill would create an automatic software filter for all pornographic content that can be disabled by adults. News of the bill has since gone viral on social media with many mocking the state for the highly conservative bill.

Sponsors say the bill will protect children while critics argued that gaping holes would make it hard to implement. Nonetheless, the bill has passed both state houses and has been sent to the governor. Republican Governor Spencer Cox has not stated if he supports the bill. A spokesperson said that the governor will "carefully consider" it before the March 25 deadline. 

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In 2016, then-Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution declaring porn a "public health crisis" in the largely Mormon state. HB72 is the first major legislative action since that resolution. If it becomes law, Utah will be the first state to mandate filters on devices for adult content. 

A '3' network mobile phone is held on Oxford Street October 16, 2003 in London, England. (Getty images)

What is HB72 and how does it affect me?

The "Device Filter Amendments" bill will require all mobile devices sold or produced in Utah to have a software filter for adult content. The filter would automatically be turned on, but could be deactivated through methods such as a passcode. The bill puts the onus on device manufacturers to create the block, and anyone who doesn't do so can be sued by the public or the state Attorney General for "up to $10 for each violation". 

Naturally, the solution is far from perfect. Senator Kathleen Riebe has raised a concern that the bill could "cause an undue burden in interstate commerce". According to the Salt Lake Tribune,  Senator Jake Anderegg said that the proposal wouldn't work because "the option to activate the adult content blockers isn’t available until further down the supply chain" while the bill puts the onus on manufacturers. 

Even if Governor Cox does sign the bill, it won't become law just yet. To address Senator Riebe's concerns, the bill has been amended to require at least five other states to enact similar laws. While there's no word yet on whether any other states will follow, it is possible. After Utah's 2016 resolution, more than a dozen states passed similar resolutions declaring porn a "public health crisis". 

Rep Pulsipher has defended the bill saying, "We're not asking to do something that we don't already have on our devices. We're just asking to have those filters turned on, to just make it a little bit easier for parents and safer for our kids." Currently, there are ways to block adult content on smartphones. Apple users can use parental control from Screen Time to limit access to adult websites. There are also a huge variety of third-party apps on both Android and iOS that do so. 

Pedestrians pass an adult video store in Times Square on March 15, 2005, in New York City (Getty images)

Internet trolls Utah

The controversial bill has got many on social media talking and trolling conservatives. One user tweeted "I guess the organizations representing online porn don’t donate enough to the Utah Republicans. Too bad they don’t have the gun lobby’s money." Another shared a screenshot showing Utah consumes the most porn and commented "I guess Utah Republicans aren't really interested in what their free market wants... #GOP"



 

 



 

Another took a shot at the state's Covid-19 restrictions, tweeting, "The Utah lege wants to protect Utahs from porn and alcohol. But guns, concealed carry for all, and the freedom to attempt to kill other people by spreading a deadly virus is A-OK."



 

Others also trolled author Candace Owens for her views on the bill. Responding to her bizarre tweet, one user said, "Right-wing media figures can't stop talking about WAP because they love WAP, and Utah is trying to ban phone porn because they love porn, thanks for coming to my Ted talk." Another joked, "Hey, Utah? I changed my mind. You can ban whatever the hell kind of porn Candace is watching."

Another user responded "Modern conservatism is perpetual burlesque of deliberately and/or inadvertently misunderstanding things very loudly Pt. XXX."



 

 



 

 

 



 

States like Louisiana, Maryland and Nevada have laws requiring Internet Service Providers (ISP's) to limit access to porn, not manufacturers. In 2016, South Carolina Rep Bill Chumley introduced a similar legislation to HB72 in the state legislature, but it never passed. Asking ISPs to limit porn is a popular option in many other nations such as India and the Middle East. Never before have manufacturers been asked to control access to content.

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