Idaho lawmakers want to let parents sue over online porn available to minors

Lawmakers in Idaho are now targeting online content they consider “harmful” to children.

Two bills introduced this week involve content children can find online, with one bill introduced Tuesday that would let parents sue companies that post online material “harmful” to children. Another, Senate Bill 1253, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Cook, R-Idaho Falls, would require cellphone providers to automatically turn on filters against “obscene” materials when the phone is registered to a minor.

The bill to allow lawsuits, from Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, and Rep. Elaine Price, R-Coeur d’Alene, largely targets pornography or material that appeals to the “prurient interest” of minors and depicts sex. A judge could award the parents with $10,000 in damages plus “nominal and compensatory damages,” according to the bill.

To avoid being sued, entities would have to require age verification to access their websites through a “digitized identification card” or the use of a “commercial age verification system.” The bill exempts news organizations as well as internet providers, search engines or computer manufacturers from liability just for providing access to the internet.

Similar bills have been introduced or passed in other states. After a similar law passed in Utah last year, Pornhub, a popular pornography website, cut off access to users in the state.