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Utah may introduce bill requiring porn-blocking filters on all new phones


In brief: Utah, it seems, is not the best place for fans of adult entertainment: conservative lawmakers are proposing all smartphones and tablets sold in the state automatically block online pornography. It’s the latest part of a campaign that began in 2016 when Utah declared porn a public health crisis.

As reported by the Associated Press, residents are now waiting to see if Utah Governor Spencer Cox vetoes the bill—passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature this month—or signs it into law by March 25. Cox has been tight-lipped about which way he’ll jump; his spokeswoman said that he “will carefully consider this bill during the bill signing period.”

Measure HB72 will require all smartphones and tablets sold in Utah after January 1, 2022, to come with a pre-installed content filter able to block “material that is harmful to minors.” Adults would be able to turn off the filter if they wish.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox

Most devices already come with some form of parental controls but supporters of the bill claim many people are unaware of these options or struggle to enable them. Critics say the bill is an intrusion on free speech.

Even if Cox does sign the bill, it won’t go into effect unless five other states also enact similar laws—the provision was added after manufacturers and retailers said it would be difficult to implement the filters in a single state.

The bill also faces other issues: whether device makers would adhere to the law, what constitutes pornography, and whether such filters would accidentally block other websites, such as those of a medical nature.



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