Fans of childhood innocence vote 33-6 for House bill that cuts porn access to minors

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House Bill 254, which adds liability for those who publish or distribute pornography, passed the Alaska House this week and is now in the Senate.

Sponsored by Rep. Sarah Vance, it is targeting a growing crisis in which minors who are consuming pornography that targets them at a rapidly accelerating rate, which is adding to the scourge of human trafficking and exploitation of minors.

Signing on as co-sponsors were Reps. Ben Carpenter, George Rauscher, and Andrew Gray.

Voting against the bill were Democrat Reps. Ashley Carrick, Sara Hannan, CJ McCormick, Donna Mears, and Genevieve Mina, and Republican Rep. David Eastman. The measure has been sent to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

Sex workers oppose the bill, which they see as cutting into their future “Only Fans” customer base.

A letter from the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project, based in San Francisco, says that while sex workers understand the importance of protecting minors from adult content, parental controls are sufficient, and the workers are fearing that they’ll be put out of business. It also warns of the risk of legal vulnerability for individuals posting adult content due to online piracy and the potential for leaks of private information. Additionally, the letter expresses worries about the intrusion on privacy and the accumulation of personal identifying information by the state government or third-party databases. Overall, the letter urged lawmakers to vote against HB 254.

The Woodall Freedom Foundation, also known as Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, also opposes the bill. The group advocates for sexual freedom as a fundamental human right: “Unfortunately, these bills are not only unconstitutional and a danger to consumer privacy, but they are also ineffective at preventing minors from accessing adult content. They are easily evaded through the use of VPNs (as more than 40% of minors already use the technology), have little impact on overseas and pirate sites, and fail to address adult content on search engines or social media where children are most likely to stumble upon it. In fact, these bills encourage the growth of explicit sexual content on non-adult sites,” the group wrote, without documentation.

Adult content creator Mattie Yukon also opposes the bill: “I am an adult content creator. I use my earnings from my adult content to support my subsistence lifestyle that was taught to me by my parents. If I lost this income I would replace it by traveling to engage in in person sex work in Fairbanks or Anchorage where serial killers like Brian Steven Smith target sex workers.”

Support for the bill, however, came from parents in side Alaska, who wrote to sponsors that Alaska’s children need legal protection from predatory porn producers.

The bill creates civil liability for any commercial entity that intentionally distributes pornography on the internet. Such a porn producer must use a commercially reasonable age-verification method to verify that a person attempting to access the pornography is 18 years of age or older. The bill can be read in its entirety at this link.

“I started with a promise to be a voice for the weak, for the voiceless, and for the vulnerable. Protecting kids from the material on the internet that can harm them for life is part of a continuing effort to keep that promise,” said House Judiciary Chair, Rep. Sarah Vance, of Homer.

With less than 18 days left in the current legislative session, it appears doubtful the Democrat-majority Senate will take meaningful action on the bill.

22 COMMENTS

  1. This article describes the bill as it existed in committee, which I supported.

    On the house floor it became a new bill, unrecognizable from the bill described above.

    The bill now creates a new government program to give $100 reimbursement checks to those who purchase “parental control software” (not defined anywhere in the bill) and have any supervision over a minor. Netflix has “parental controls”, so does Disney+. If the state reimbursed individuals for their Netflix subscriptions it would be perfectly legal under this bill.

    But the creation of a new government agency to reimburse software subscriptions pales in contrast to what the bill will now do to every Alaskan who wants to use the Internet.

    This bill now makes it illegal to access most Internet websites and software applications without first verifying your identity/age.

    You heard that right, in order to protect minors from the dangers of overusing the Internet, Amazon will now be required to verify your identity/age before allowing you to visit its website. Perhaps there is a benefit in that, but if you want to use a word processor on the Internet, you will need to verify your identity/age for that too, same when you want to visit any news website that allows comments.

    In short, anything on the Internet that involves user-generated content (i.e. most things other than static websites from the 90’s) must now verify your ID/age any time you want to access it.

    Alaskans older than 13 must now sacrifice their privacy anytime they go online. Alaskans younger than 14 will be banned from doing so.

    If the owner of the website doesn’t verify your age they will be subject to severe financial and legal consequences. Any website who doesn’t want to pay for age verification service, and/or isn’t prepared to deal with the legal liability and cost of compliance will not be able to legally allow access to their website/software to anyone in Alaska.

    There are additional regulatory hurdles a website/application must negotiate because those aged 14 and 15 will be permitted to access things online, but only after they verify their identity and their parents verify their own identity, and grant permission. And then there are processes that must be followed when a “verified parent” (not sure how they are going to be able to legally verify that on a website exactly) changes their mind and doesn’t want to allow it anymore, and any data the minor has online must then be deleted, etc.

    There is zero chance the Supreme Court is going to say “sure, state government can force Americans to show their government ID anytime they want to use the Internet in order to protect tweens from overusing the Internet.”

    Free speech is mentioned in the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech” for EXACTLY these kinds of laws.

    How can you be a Republican and vote for this, when it clearly runs smack dab into the Constitution? How can you be an American?

    This bill would turn using the Internet in Alaska into something like what people in China experience when they try to go online.

    • Not sure you’re the one who should be questioning the Americanism of others.

      I’ve seen your rants and your voting record.

      • Well you can click on the link to the bill that is in the article and read the details for yourself. Rep Eastman is only giving information. I find no basis for attack over that.

      • Definitionally, a political proposal that does not conform to our constitution is an un-American idea. Making that point is not saying those promoting the idea are themselves un-American. Moreover, we are all obliged to point our anything that abridges our constitution.

    • I’m with you Mr. Eastman, and thank you for seeing past the flashy headlines and voting according to your principles based on what the bill actually says. Every expansion of government power has been in the name of some laudable goal, but no such expansions have ever ultimately limited themselves to that goal. In this case, given how easily these laws are thwarted in the states that have them, it would likely do little if anything to even achieve its stated goal.

    • I’m also with Eastman, who seems to realize that being an actual conservative isn’t always popular.

    • Eastman, Netflix and Disney+ would not fall into the reimbursement program. The program requires that a third of the content (as described in the bill as a ‘significant portion’ of content on the site referencing porn) is pornographic – the bill also details what is considered pornographic.

      Not in favor of the $100 reimbursement- but it’s probably coming out of the PFD we aren’t getting anyhow and wouldn’t be a reason to vote down the whole bill.

      As far as personal data concerns – this bill details fines for every day that data is stored beyond the age verification process. And hate to break it to you, but if you are using the internet – even if not for nefarious purposes, say commenting on a news article…. – your data is already compromised to some degree. At least this gives a legal avenue for action.

  2. Any part of the USA that has government subsidized internet access should not be broadcasting porn for anyone at any age. Subsidizing porn should not be part of a government program. Instead of just protecting kids, how about we protect the tax payers as well.

  3. Legislators: don’t pass laws that force parents to co-parent with state government. Let parents do their job as parents, and stop trying to snoop around our private spaces to gather data about our families’ internet usage.

    • SA, why do you do a 180 and use conservative talking points? Confusing those readers that don’t know what your prior posting history is?

    • I think that she actually means well, but she keeps trying to involve government more and more in our lives.

  4. What amazes me about this bill is that it is OKAY to having porn in the school and public libraries, but now, all of a sudden, everyone is worried about children accessing porn on the internet? I think that this is the slow walking of locking down the internet so that no one can use it except those who play the globalist’s game.

  5. I saw no details of how age verification is accomplished. In my biggest mistake raising children was underestimating their intelligence and creativity. Most can game age verification by “borrowing” a parent’s credit card to break through. Never forget children are motivated to impress their friends.

  6. Wow! The comments above tell me there is some merit in reading the bill myself. I don’t know what to believe about it now!

    Here’s the deal: I truly detest smut on the Internet. I already subscribe to a service to screen content. I have young sons I want to protect. I’m not going to porn sites. I’m mad about sexually suggestive ads and photos in news articles that draw you into sin. I can’t imagine how tempting that would be for a 12 year old boy (or younger).

    That said, I also value privacy and I don’t think ISP’s need to know my identity and I sure as HELL know I don’t want the ISP’s to know their identity. It leaves the door open to spying. Not a good trade off.

  7. It’s amazing how many good bills are ruined with someone’s amendments. The invasion of privacy concerns make this bill a dead letter. My concern is how the 33 yes votes didn’t catch any of the probable consequences of their actions. With so much government surveillance every day we have very little privacy left. Hopefully the Senate will catch this and assign it to the scrap heap. Or better yet, strike the amendments back to the original bill to protect the kids. And how about something to protect them against the libraries. Evidentially the state constitutional prohibitions against exposing kids to porn isn’t enough.

  8. Thanks for your excellent analysis, Rep. Eastman.
    .
    Best guess is Rep. Vance meant well, but inadvertently overlooked the reason for the First Amendment.
    .
    Otherwise, think of it, Alaska’s very own State Smut Commission, solemn apparatchiki pawing through Modigliani, Picasso, Rembrandt, Schiele, Courbet, Gauguin, Stormy Daniels, protecting our little darlings from the unseeable
    .
    …while:
    transvestite teachers remain free to grope and groom our little darlings,
    transvestites remain free to use public facilities as venues of exhibitionism to groom children,
    librarians remain free to provide all the pornography children can consume,
    school officials remain free to invite kids, without parents’ knowledge, into the secret world of irreversible child mutilation.
    .
    Wouldn’t be surprised to see a coalition of very strange bedfollows assembling against this idiocy.
    .
    What legislation without some form of constitutionally outlawed punishment keeps children away from anything, including internet pornography?
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    Parent says don’t do it, kids do it anyway and, God willing, survive the doing of it.
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    Government-Parent says don’t do it, kids’ll stop right then and there, just like with drugs, tobacco, sex, and booze?
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    Remember how well Prohibition worked? And that was the adults.
    .
    Now it’s “digitized identification card, requiring (compliance) with a commercial age verification system” versus the modern internet speakeasy and the ultimate speakeasy, the dark web,
    .
    … full of tips on VPN’s, AI, old-school hacking, i-p spoofing, photo shopping, data breaches, revenge porn, i-d fraud, i-d theft, blackmail, extortion, skimming, phishing, etc., etc.
    .
    …most of which, including procuring fake “digitized identification cards”, the little darlings seem to know more about than any adult, or legislator.
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    Blackmail? Imagine the chaos when someone figures out how to make a few bucks by suggesting that, for a fee, expertly personalized fake “digitized identification cards” associated with voluminous records of really nasty pornographic web site addresses don’t have to be made public.
    .
    Can’t happen here of course, but what if it did?

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