Rhode Island Democrats Propose Unconstitutional 'Porn Watching Fee'

Rhode Island Democrats Propose Unconstitutional ‘Porn Watching Fee’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island residents will have to pay a $20 porn watching fee to access sexually explicit content online if a newly introduced bill passes the General Assembly this session.

A mandatory porn filtering bill introduced by two cretinous political hacks, Sen. Frank Ciccone III, D-Providence, and Sen. Hanna Gallo, D-Cranston, on Thursday would require Internet providers to digitally block “sexual content and patently offensive material.”  But, consumers could deactivate that block for a fee of $20.

Each quarter the internet providers would give the money made from the deactivation fees to the state’s general treasurer, who would forward the money to the attorney general to fund the operations of the Council on Human Trafficking, according to the bill’s language.

A similar bill was presented in Virginia last month.

Under the terms of the patently unconstitutional ‘opt-in’ measure now proposed in Rhode Island, if online distributors of sexual content do not comply with the filter, the attorney general or a consumer could file a civil suit of up to $500 for each piece of content reported, but not blocked, according to the bill.

Georgia lawmakers previously went down this rabbit hole of unconstitutionality, with a 2017 bill called HB 509- The Human Trafficking Prevention Act (HTPA), which sought to mandate filters on mobile devices that allow internet access.  As Timothy Geigner noted on TechDirt at the time:

Where the censorship of legitimate and legal speech is pretty plainly unconstitutional, specifically taxing a form of speech is painfully so.

In addition, critics explain that porn filtering schemes end up erroneously blocking harmless material which is educational, medical or artistic. For instance, a 2007 paper by the University of California, Berkeley, tested 15 combinations of internet content filters and filter settings. The most restrictive of those filters managed to block 91% of adult content – but it also mistakenly blocked 23% of “clean” webpages. The less restrictive filters had fewer errors but only managed to restrict access to 40% of material which was deemed inappropriate for children.

Filters that fail to correctly distinguish between pornography and sites that provide advice on sexual health, sexuality and relationships would actually do more harm than good. In Great Britain, ONS stats say 43% of people aged over 16 use the internet to seek health-related information – a figure that has more than doubled since 2007 and will probably continue to rise.

Ciccone and Gallo did not respond to phone messages requesting comment Friday night.

The ‘porn watching fee’ bill was referred to the Rhode Island legislature’s Senate Judiciary Committee.

Providence Journal

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