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Utah Governor Signs Legislation Requiring Phones, Tablets to Automatically Block Porn

The Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 7, 2020 (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed legislation on Tuesday that would require all cellphones and tablets sold in the state to automatically block pornography, though the measure will not take effect unless five other states enact similar laws.

While critics have criticized the law as a violation of First Amendment rights, the Republican governor believes the measure will send an “important message” about keeping children from accessing explicit content online, according to the Associated Press.

The governor said that because the legislation will not immediately go into effect without other states following suit— a provision that was added to address concerns that it would be difficult to implement the measure — he is not concerned about constitutionality.

“This is another example of the Legislature dodging the constitutional impacts of the legislation they pass,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Jason Groth said. 

The ACLU said the constitutionality of the bill will likely be argued in court.

State Representative Susan Pulsipher, who sponsored the bill, has argued that the measure does not infringe upon any constitutional rights because adults can deactivate the filters.

She said she is “grateful” the governor signed the bill, which she hopes will help parents prevent their children from being exposed to pornography.

Utah lawmakers, a number of whom are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had previously ordered that warning labels be required on print and online pornography.

In 2016, Utah became the first state to declare porn a public health crisis. After the state’s designation, more than a dozen states advanced similar resolutions.

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