Fury as governor signs bill that would block porn on phones and tablets in US

PORN stars have been left furious after the Governor of Utah signed a bill on Tuesday blocking porn from phones and tablets.

Gov Spencer Cox said the measure would send an “important message” as the conservative state continues its porn crackdown.

The law will require new devices sold in the state to automatically include an explicit content filter from January 2022.

It still requires at least five other states to enforce similar bills before the law can be put into effect.

Phone manufacturers had lobbied with state lawmakers for the provision over concerns about implementation in a single state.

Cox supported the bill because he believes pornography causes harm to youth, he said, even though tech companies warned of litigation over it.

They have voiced concerns over the provision that any manufacturer who does not abide by the law could receive a civil penalty ranging from $10 to $500.

Rep. Susan Pulsipher, the bill’s sponsor, said she was “grateful” it was closer to coming into effect after receiving Gov Cox's signature.

Yet critics have pushed back, claiming the law infringes on their free speech rights.

They have argued that the constitutionality of the law has not been properly assessed.

“This is another example of the Legislature dodging the constitutional impacts of the legislation they pass,” ACLU attorney Jason Groth told the Associated Press.

The organization said the bill will likely be argued in court.

Adult film star Cherie DeVille was among those calling on Gov Cox to veto the bill this week.

She published an open letter in the Daily Beast on Saturday in which she also claimed that the bill violates residents' rights.

Yet Cox has argued that he is not currently concerned about the constitutional issues with the bill, as it won't come into effect until another five states sign-on.

DeVille has not yet responded to a request for comment on the governor's decision to sign the bill this week.

Rep. Pulsipher said she had introduced the bill as an extra measure in helping parents protect their children from viewing explicit content.

Concerns had been raised that children are more vulnerable to explicit material, as many now have their own devices and are spending more time online due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pulsipher has hit back on claims that the law would violate the free speech rights of Utah residents and claimed that it would still not completely protect children from accessing porn. 

Cellphones and tablets already include an explicit content filter that parents can switch on to prevent their children from accidentally accessing porn.

Yet Utah lawmakers contested that parents without the technical know-how should be helped further by requiring all devices sold in the state to have the filter automatically switched on.

Adults who don't wish to use the filter will be able to turn it off again if needed.

Utah, a majority Mormon state, has been trying to curb pornography for years.

In 2016, state lawmakers branded access to pornography as a "public health crisis" as they pushed for warning labels. 

That same year, former Republican Governor Gary Herbert had wanted to send $50,000 of taxpayer money to a group advocating against pornography. 

The conservative Mormon culture often regards mainstream magazines and lingerie catalogs as offensive and has railed against them. 

It is the first state to introduce a measure on blocking pornographic content on phones.

Yet according to the Associated Press, more than a dozen states advanced similar resolutions to declare porn a public health crisis after Utah became the first to do so in 2016.

Pornhub was also contacted for comment on the bill but a representative was not available.

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