Utah Governor Signs Legislation Requiring Pornography Filters on Smartphones, Tablets

The governor of Utah signed a bill Tuesday requiring pornography filters on smartphones and tablets.

Gov. Spencer Cox (R) approved the legislation just days after lawmakers passed the bill, H.B. 72, which specifies that, when a device is activated in Utah, it must “automatically enable a filter of blocking material that is harmful to minors,” according to CBN News.

The filter is designed to “prevent the user of the device from accessing material that is harmful to minors on the device,” the bill states. It also enables “certain users to deactivate the filter for the device or for specific content” as well as to “notify the user when content is filtered.”

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Cox said the measure sends an “important message” about keeping children from accessing explicit content on the internet, the Associated Press reported. It’s worth noting, though, the bill cannot take effect unless five other states enact similar legislation, a provision added to curb concerns that the measure would be too difficult to implement in Utah alone.

State Rep. Susan Pulsipher (R), the bill’s sponsor, said she is “grateful” the governor signed the proposal, which she argued will protect children from pornography and is not a constitutional violation because adults — and parents — can freely deactivate the content filter.

Some, though, don’t agree.

Jason Groth, an attorney for the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, told the AP the bill is “another example of the legislature dodging the constitutional impacts of the legislation they pass.”

Cox’s decision to sign the bill into law isn’t a surprise. In 2016, Utah, where most belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, became the first state in the U.S. to declare pornography consumption a “public health crisis.” Several other states have since followed suit.

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National Center for Sexual Exploitation Executive Director Dawn Hawkins praised Utah lawmakers and the governor for the legislation.

“Utah has passed a critical, common-sense solution to help protect vulnerable children from accessing harmful pornographic content on phones and tablets,” she said, noting the measure will protect children from the harmful and even traumatic effects of exposure to pornography.

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