A newly proposed law would make it illegal for retailers to sell pornography-filterless devices in Alabama. House Bill 428 will be reviewed next week and is designed to drastically limit access to pornography, prostitution and sexual cyber harassment in that state.
The new law was filed earlier this month by Representative Jack Williams. Defining an Internet-access device, the bill lists “a cellular telephone, computer, data communications device, or other product manufactured, distributed or sold in this state that provides Internet.”
Williams’ bill would require retailers that sell such devices to install filters to block “obscene material, child pornography, images used for sexual cyber harassment or sites used for human trafficking,” according to ABC3340. The bill would make selling a smartphone (or any device with Internet access) without such a filter a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Additionally, the law would make selling a filterless device to a minor a class C felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
If a consumer wishes to remove the filter, he or she will be required to do the following: Submit the request in writing, acknowledge the receipt of a written warning regarding the potential danger of deactivating the filter, and pay a $20 deactivation fee. Only people 18 years old and older may request the filter be deactivated.
The $20 deactivation fee would go to the state and fund programs for victims of human trafficking as well as initiatives to prevent human trafficking, among other things.
The proposed law would also require sellers to respond to reports of obscene content breaching a filter.
While this all sounds good and helpful, especially for the minors who will not be allowed to deactivate the filter, civil liberties advocates feel the bill could violate freedom of speech.
If the bill passes after lawmakers review it next week, retailers and consumers would be required to adhere to the law effective January 1, 2018.