Regulation

SC Lawmakers Propose $20 Porn Filter

In an attempt to crack down human trafficking and explicit online behavior, lawmakers in South Carolina are teeing up a bill that would levy a $20 fee on those who wish to watch internet pornography.

The proposed bill, the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, requires computers, tablets and other devices sold within South Carolina to have a mandatory porn filter built into the device. In order to get it removed, there would be a $20 fee, which many say will be shifted as a burden from the merchant to the customer. For merchants that do not follow the law, there would be additional fines in place. The bill would also mandate that retailers and manufacturers block access to websites offering services related to sex workers and human trafficking. The fees would go toward the state Attorney General’s human trafficking task force.

Republican representatives Bill Chumley and Mike Burns are behind the bill, which was pre-filed before the legislature’s winter break. Discussions will continue in 2017.

There are more than 150,000 sex trafficking victims in the United States, and according to the Human Trafficking Hotline, more than 58 cases were reported in South Carolina this year. In 2015, legislation passed mandating that certain types of businesses, organizations and establishments post information about the National Human Trafficking Resource Center on paper no smaller than 8.5” by 11.”

Some experts laud the effort but call the bill misguided and have doubts about the bill’s ability to achieve the purpose because it may misunderstand and conflate it with the sex industry. They say more needs to be done in a way that affects everyone, not just the people who wish to the filter lifted. Ultimately, they say the fees won’t deter traffickers. In addition, $20 is not going to prevent people from watching as they will likely pay the fine and start clicking.

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