Culture

Utah House Reps pass bill requiring new phones come with anti-porn filters

Although their Republican governor is expected to sign off, five other states would need similar legislation before it could go into effect.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 17: A statue of Brigham Young, the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, stands outside the historic Mormon Salt Lake Temple  on December 17, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. A inside whistle blower has alleged the Mormon Church misled members on how a $100 billion investment fund was used. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
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Perhaps that phallic monolith in the middle of nowhere Utah was a harbinger of things to come, after all: Republican (of course) House Reps in the Beehive State just passed a proposal that would require all phones and tablets sold in-state to come preinstalled with content filters “blocking material that is harmful to minors.”

Utah’s governor, the appropriately named Republican, Spencer Cox, now has until March 25 to either veto the bill, or sign it into law. Here’s a picture of the dude — we’ll let you guess which way he’s leaning.

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Utah continues to un-pave the way — The new proposal, Measure HB72, is only the latest in a years’ long anti-pornography campaign undertaken by the state’s conservative advocates. As Engadget reports, Utah officially declared porn a “public health crisis” back in 2016, a stunt that inspired 15 other states towards similar actions.

If fully enacted, HB72 would require any smartphone and tablet sold within state lines after January 1, 2022, to come already equipped with explicit filtering mechanisms. That said, adults would still be able to toggle these features, so if this sounds pretty redundant given pre-existing parental control options... um, we’re right there with you.

Five more states needed to pile on — The reactionary measure is almost certainly yet another political stunt by conservative state lawmakers attempting to drum up voter support, but that doesn’t make the censorship sentiment any less troubling. Luckily, even if HB72 is greenlit by Cox, five more states would have to sign similar laws into effect before product changes could begin.

And that’s not even taking into account tech giants like Apple and Google raising their own kinds of legal hell in opposition. Instead of conservatives continuing their long tradition of moral policing, perhaps they should tend to their own house (of representatives) before setting their sights on everyone elses.