Rhode Island Backs Away From Incomprehensibly Stupid Porn Filter Law

from the stop-doing-that dept

For years now, a guy by the name of Chris Sevier has been waging a fairly facts-optional war on porn. Sevier first came to fame for trying to marry his computer to protest same sex marriage back in 2016. He also tried to sue Apple after blaming the Cuppertino giant for his own past porn addiction, and has gotten into trouble for allegedly stalking country star John Rich and a 17-year-old girl. Sevier has since been a cornerstone of an effort to pass truly awful porn filter legislation in more than 15 states under the disengenuous guise of combatting human trafficking.

Dubbed the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” all of the incarnations of the law would force ISPs to filter pornography and other “patently offensive material.” The legislation would then force state residents interested in viewing porn to pony up a one-time $20 “digital access fee” to whitelist the internet’s naughty bits for each internet-connected device in the home. The proposal is patently absurd, technically impossible to implement, and yet somehow these bills continue to get further than they ever should across a huge swath of the boob-phobic country.

Rhode Island was the latest state to consider such legislation, their version of the law (pdf) imposing fines up to $500 for each instance of offensive content ISPs failed to filter (costs that would, as always, just be passed on to the end consumer while tech-savvy porn users simply tap-dance around the restrictions). Sevier’s garbage legislation saw some success in the state after Sevier randomly affixed kidnapping-victim Elizabeth Smart’s name to the proposal to help sell it (her name is referenced on his website), something Smart herself has been none too happy with.

Thanks to Smart’s recent disgust at having her name hijacked, the original backer of the law in Rhode Island, State Senator Frank Ciccone, has decided to scrap the proposal after learning about its “dubious” origins:

Sen. Frank Ciccone, D-Providence, said he asked that the bill be killed upon learning that Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped as a teenager and whose name was attached to the bill in legislatures across the country, wanted nothing to do with it.

“In light of recent nationwide reporting about the dubious origins of this bill, I have requested that the legislation be withdrawn from today’s Judiciary Committee hearing,” Ciccone said in a Tuesday news release. “Also, after learning that Elizabeth Smart was in no way involved with this legislation, and the fact that 18 other state legislatures have received the same erroneous information leading to similar bills being sponsored across the country, I am withdrawing this legislation from the 2018 Senate session.”

And while that’s great and all, it would have taken Ciccone all of five minutes of internet research to discover the dubious origins of these proposals, since this bullshit has been going on for several years now. Again, none of these proposals should be getting anywhere close to being seriously considered, and the guy crafting them shouldn’t be writing commercial jingle ideas on cocktail napkins, much less state law.

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Comments on “Rhode Island Backs Away From Incomprehensibly Stupid Porn Filter Law”

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14 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

big improvement over the DMCA's one-sided enforcement

In the DMCA, content removed by the hosting provider due to a provably false infringement accusation must remain offline at least 10 additional days before it can legally be restored. Rhode Island’s anti-porn bill does not force providers to wait those 10 days before reversing bogus accusation removals. So while stupid, at least it contains a grain of sanity.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

We don’t need these sorts of ‘moral police’ laws.
We need parents to take ownership of having to supervise their own children & punish them when they break the rules.

Denying everyone the right to eat steak because a baby can’t eat steak would result in outrage, yet they seem to have no problem inflicting their warped beliefs on everyone else. (And let’s be honest, a bunch of these supporters would be the first in line to regain their access to all sorts of porn that might make even the most jaded of us blush.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Holy crap - senator did his job!

If he was doing his job he wouldn’t have considered it even with Elizabeth Smart’s name slapped on it. He would have shredded it and used it to line bird and hamster cages and told the proposer to get out and stop wasting time, paper, and public resources with outright unconstitutional and moronic proposals.

Hell even a “Save The Puppies” bill that proposed indefinite detention of all puppy miller owners would be a better bill. While still obviously unconstitutional and a disproportionate use of government power it would at least be /relevant/ to the aims it professes.

Berenerd (profile) says:

So, if he wants someone to blame his porn habit on, he might want to stop taking bribes from the people who run the strip clubs that are all over the small state. Several of which have been “closed” for having underaged girls and missing girls dancing at them. They are also allegedly controlled by organised crime in the state.

To quote a meme I saw the other day:

“With all of these homophobes finding out they are actually gay, maybe I should start worrying that I might really be a giant spider.”

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