RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — A bill has been proposed in Virginia's General Assembly that would require any device capable of accessing the internet to have the ability to block obscene content.
House Bill 1592, also known as the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, was sponsored by Delegate Dave A. LaRock (a Republican representing parts of Clarke, Frederick, and Loudoun counties) with the idea of reducing human trafficking by making it more difficult for people to be able to access pornography.
The bill would prohibit any internet-capable device, like phones and computers, from being sold in Virginia unless it is able to filter obscene content.
If either the seller or buyer wants that filter disabled, the person would, under this bill, have to pay $20 to a newly created Virginia Prevention of Human Trafficking Victim Fund.
That money would go toward supporting human trafficking victim services and the prosecution of human trafficking cases.
Distributors would have to pay $20 for every device with the filter disabled. Someone who buys a phone or tablet or computer and wants to have the ability to access pornography would have to make a written request, prove they are over the age of 18, acknowledge " the potential danger of disabling the capability," and pay a fee of $20.
Supporters of the bill say it will help Virginia send a message that sexual exploitation has consequences. Opponents say it limits the freedom of the internet.
The text of the bill does provide an exception, allowing people to report cases where content is blocked that is not actually obscene. It would have to be reported to the person or company who distributed the device, and they would then have to unblock the content within five business days.