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Rhode Island Joins Virginia in Considering Porn-Watching Fee

by Countable | 3.8.18

What's the story?

  • Rhode Island is considering a $20 "digital access fee" on customers wanting to view "sexual content and patently offensive material.”

  • The bill was proposed by two Democrats, Sens. Frank Ciccone and Hanna Gallo.

  • “The purpose of this legislation is to first and foremost protect our children from viewing websites that could have possible detrimental effects to their psyches and developmental process,” Ciccone said in a statement. “And I want to be clear, the intent of this bill is to require that digital blocks on this kind of material be available to parents if they so choose to use it."

  • Like Virginia House Bill 1592, the money collected would be used to help combat human trafficking.

How would the bill work?

If the bill passes, internet-service providers (ISPs) would be required to enable “digital content blocking capability” that would target sexual acts "normal or perverted, actual or simulated.”

To disable the content blocker, users would need to:

  • Request, in writing, that the blocker be disabled.
  • Present identification to verify they're over 18 years of age.
  • Acknowledge receiving a warning regarding the potential danger of deactivating the porn blocker.
  • Pay a one-time $20 "digital access fee."

Countable's original story on Virginia's proposed porn-watching fee appears below.


Virginia Considering Porn-Watching Fee

What’s the story?

Virginia House Bill 1592, also known as "The Human Trafficking Prevention Act," would charge people $20 to watch online porn. The money would be used to help combat human trafficking.

Why does it matter?

The Human Trafficking Prevention Act would make it "unlawful for any person to distribute or sell any product that makes content accessible on the Internet unless the product possesses an operating digital content blocking capability that renders obscene content, including obscene items, obscene performances, or obscene exhibitions, inaccessible."

To unlock the "obscene content," Virginians would have to pay $20 to the Virginia Prevention of Human Trafficking Victim Fund.

"By public education, the next generation is very well informed that exploitation has consequences," Jessica Neely, a human trafficking survivor, told WRIC in Richmond. "Endorsing this bill, getting behind it and making sure it passes, your state - Virginia - makes the choice that girls like myself can choose recovery."

Opponents of the bill argue it’s an infringement on their rights.

"I think that’s a freedom we all have as Americans," Grace Owens told WNEC Norfolk. “I just don’t see the relevance at all.”

What do you think?

Want to see a similar bill enacted in your state? Will charging a fee to unlock porn help people understand that "exploitation has consequences"? Or is it an infringement on “a freedom we all have as Americans”? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your comments below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: scyther5 / iStock)

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