California lawmakers approve bill that would make you show ID before looking at porn

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!


Look at online porn? Soon, you might have to provide a credit card or government ID in order to do so.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee last week sided with conservative religious organizations against LGBTQ, reproductive health and civil liberty advocacy groups and voted unanimously in favor of AB 3080, a bill by Assemblyman Juan Alanis, R-Modesto, that would require pornographic websites “to take reasonable steps to ensure” that only adults are looking at them.

The age verification bill is backed by groups including the California Catholic Conference, California Family Council, Concerned Women for America, Exodus Cry, Family Policy Alliance and the Pacific Justice Institute Center for Public Policy.

Concerned Women for America wrote in a statement of support for the bill that it “is a step toward protecting children from accidental or unintentional exposure to obscene and indecent images and videos.”

The bill is opposed by groups that include the Advocates for Youth, Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement and Research, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Speech Coalition, GLSEN (an LGBTQ advocacy group), National Abortion Federation, Netchoice and Reproaction (an abortion rights advocacy group).

The EFF warned in an opposition statement that the bill could have unfair and serious consequences for adults viewing these websites.

“Age verification laws don’t just impact young people — it’s necessary to confirm the ages of all website visitors. It is a significant privacy violation to require all people to submit either their official government-issued identification credentials, or to delve into their transactional history — including ‘bank account information’ — to attempt to determine their age,particularly if that person is an adult for whom there are no restrictions to view such material,” the EFF wrote.

So what is porn?

Sure, as the famed adage goes, “I know it when I see it,” but who gets to define it? Turns out, California lawmakers do. The bill specifies “pornographic internet websites” to be any site that knowingly publishes “sexually explicit content” that on an annual basis makes up more than a third of the site’s content.

As for what constitutes “sexually explicit content,” the bill spells it out...well...explicitly.

The bill moves now to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

If it becomes law, California would join a host of red states, including Texas, in requiring online age verification for porn. When Texas passed its version of the law, online porn giant Pornhub announced that it would no longer accept web traffic from that state. Could that happen in California next?


“We have a right as a board to defy a dictatorial governor and bureaucracy — or whatever — that tries to take away our rights as parents and as citizens — as a duly elected board. We have legal standing and we should absolutely stand up for our rights against dictators.”

- Murrieta Valley Board of Education Member Nick Pardue, in comments last week as he and two other board members voted to retain the district’s parental notification, in defiance of both the California Department of Education and their own school staff, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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