Last Updated on December 20, 2022
A Republican U.S. Senator has introduced draft legislation that seeks to protect minors from the harms associated with pornography.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Shielding Children’s Retinas from Egregious Exposure on the Net (SCREEN) Act which, if passed, would force the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to order pornography websites to adopt age verification technology to ensure minors are not viewing explicit sexual content.
Senator Lee’s draft of the SCREEN bill noted how “the Supreme Court of the United States has struck down the previous efforts of Congress to shield children from pornographic content, finding that such legislation constituted a ‘compelling government interest’ but that it was not the least restrictive means to achieve such interest.”
Lee’s bill explained how internet filters do not efficiently block pornography from being viewed by minor. The SCREEN act, referencing a Kaiser Family Foundation report, explained how “filters do not work on 1 in 10 pornography sites accessed intentionally and 1 in 3 pornography sites that are accessed unintentionally.”
“Further, it has been proven 8 that children are able to bypass ‘blocking and filtering’ software by employing strategic searches or 10 measures to bypass the software completely,” Lee added.
“We require age verification at brick-and-mortar shops. Why shouldn’t we require it online?” the Utah senator questioned.
Lee’s bill would order the FCC to establish a “‘more likely than not’ verification standard for pornographic websites for the purposes of determining whether the user of a pornographic website is a child or not.”
This age-verification technology would be overseen through an audit process and websites with ineffective age verification could face law enforcement.
Sen. Lee explained his reasoning for introducing the SCREEN Act, citing the negative effects of pornography usage: “Every day, we’re learning more about the negative psychological effects pornography has on minors. Given the alarming rate of teenage exposure to pornography, I believe the government must act quickly to enact protections that have a real chance of surviving First Amendment scrutiny. We require age verification at brick-and-mortar shops. Why shouldn’t we require it online?”
Read the bill’s text, in its entirety, here, and a one-page draft of the bill here.
Stay tuned to National File for any updates.
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