U.S. Senators Ben Sasse and Jeff Merkley have introduced a bipartisan bill calling for extensive new censorship rules for adult websites.
Dubbed the Stop Internet Sexual Explotation Act , the bill was prompted, according to an
announcement from Sasse's office, by reports of how videos and photos are uploaded to websites like Pornhub without the consent of individuals who appear in them. In particular the bill seems triggered by charges filed against Pornhub parent company
MindGeek alleging that the company knowingly hosted and profited from the non-consensual videos over which website GirlsDoPorn.
Among the censorship measures the new bill seeks to enact are:
Require any user uploading a video to the platform to verify their identiry
Require any user uploading a video to the platform also upload a signed consent form from every individual appearing in the video
Creating a private right
of action against an uploader who uploads a pornographic image without the consent of an individual featured in the image
Requiring platforms hosting pornography to include a notice or banner on the website instructing how an individual can
request removal of a video if an individual has not consented to it being uploaded on the platform
Prohibiting video downloads from these platforms, to be in place within three months of enactment of the legislation
hosting pornography to offer a 24-hour hotline staffed by the platform, for individuals who contact the hotline to request removal of a video that has been distributed without their consent
Requiring removal of flagged videos within two hours of
such a request
Requiring platforms to use software to block a video from being re-uploaded after its removal, which must be in place within six months of enactment of the legislations
Directing the Federal Trade Commission to enforce
violations of these requirements
Creating a database of individuals who have indicated they do not consent, which must be checked before new content can be uploaded to platforms
Instructing the Department of Justice to promulgate rules
on where this database should be housed, and determine how to connect victims with services, to include couseling and casework
Establishing that failure to comply with this requirement will result in a civil penalty to the platform, with
proceeds going towards victim services
Britain's Channel 4 gave viewers an inside look at the U.K. adult industry in October when it aired the four-episode drama series Adult Material . Now, American fans will get to see the porn-themed series for themselves, when the series
debuts on the HBO Max streaming service December 11.
The series stars British actress Hayley Squires as Jolene Dollar, a fictional, aging porn performer who struggles to balance a career in the adult industry with the responsibilities of motherhood
to her three children. Veteran actor Rupert Everett co-stars as a porn producer who oversees Jolene Dollar's scenes.
UK critics responded enthusiastically to the show, with one saying that Adult Material, raises big questions about sex, consent and
power -- and will have you both laughing and crying.
Adult Material has also been sold to Australia's SBS Viceland where the first episode was broadcast on 1st December.
Some porn websites are beginning to comply with a nonsense new Utah law requiring warning labels be attached to adult-oriented materials.
At least three major tube sites, Pornhub, XTube and RedTube, have begun attaching the opt-in notification for
visitors, which states that Utah believes pornographic materials can be harmful if viewed by minors.
This trigger warning is a response to Utah state law sponsored by Utah House Representative Brady Brammer earlier this year. The bill started life
as intending to restrict porn in the state but was watered down until it ended up as a trivial warning requirement.
Moralist campaigners in the US have been pushing for computers and smart phones to be pre-loaded before sale with unspecified porn blocking software that can only be removed once users pay an unblocking fee.
But the campaigners haven't really done
much to specify how this idea could be implemented in practice. Now the proposal introduced by representative Susan Pulsipher has run into a wall of dissent in the Utah legislature at an interim committee hearing, and the idea was rejected without a
Pulsipher said the goal of her effort was to create another wall of defense to help protect children from the damaging impact of pornography and empower parents and legal guardians to limit a minor's exposure to such online harmful material.
But committee members balked at Pulsipher's approach, noting that it would be extremely difficult to identify which entity in the consumer electronics supply chain should be held liable for ensuring that software was activated.
Bramble, R-Provo, pointed out that Pulsipher's proposal failed to identify whether the responsible party was the manufacturer, the company that distributed the product, or the store or reseller that sold the product to the consumer.
she appreciated the opportunity to field the concerns of committee members and promised to work on revising the bill in time for further consideration in the next interim session. But Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert said he was unlikely to end up a
supporter of the effort, regardless of what changes Pulsipher came back with.
Utah was one of the first states to pass legilsation promoting a modern day morality message that porn harms public healthl. The state went on to pass a somewhat watered down bill requiring porn producers to add a warning to any porn films sold in the
Now Pornhub has responded to the new legislation by pre-fixing a warning to its porn films, at least for those reading from Utah. The websites also requires a tick box consent that a reader is over 18.
US strip clubs are taking steps to allow customers back inside. Though in some cases, the strip clubs will be forced to reopen without strippers.
The Lucky Devil Lounge, a strip club in Portland, Oregon, has been operating since April as a
drive-through restaurant with dancers wearing facial masks and gloves, performing for customers who remain in cars, under a tent in the club's parking lot.
The Den, a strip club in Cheyenne, Wyoming, opened its doors on May 15 with a masks on,
clothes off party-style event.
In Superior, Wisconsin, the Centerfolds Cabaret strip club limits on the number of patrons who may enter the club at any one time, in an attempt to maintain social distancing standards.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, sex workers who have gone online to make a living are discovering the market is saturated with performers, whilst at the same time many subscribers are canceling their subscriptions due to their own financial
According to Newsweek reporter Ewan Palmer's article , established online performers are losing customers or receiving
less money from fans who are experiencing their own financial struggles as the economy continues to spiral downward. As many go online to make ends meet, those without an existing online profile are finding a glut of performers and difficulty trying to
In addition, American sex workers are barred from the government's effort to help small businesses whose incomes were severely impacted by the pandemic. The Small Business Association's Economic Injury Disaster Program prohibits anyone who
presents live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derives their income from the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature from receiving benefits.
The Free Speech Coalition is trade group representing, amongst others, US porn producers. The group has just published its interpretation of Utah's recently passed anti pornography law that requires a warning label on products distributed in the
state of Utah. The group writes:
In March, the State of Utah passed a law requiring anyone distributing obscene material in Utah to affix a warning label -- and, in the case of streaming video, a five-second pre-roll -- warning
potential viewers of the dangers associated with showing such content to minors. Failure to do so can result in a $2500 fine (plus court costs and legal fees).
The law has caused a fair amount of confusion, both within the state
and among adult producers. While we can not provide legal advice or specific guidance about any business' potential liability under the law, we hope we can provide some context for understanding the new law.
Some of the confusion
comes from the previous versions of the bill. When the original bill was introduced in early February, the proposed law applied not just to obscene content, but to any representation of sexual activity. Thanks to the work of ACLU and objections raised by
FSC, the law has now been significantly narrowed. Currently, the requirement to label content only applies to legally obscene material.
What Is Obscene?
While the word obscene is often used casually
to describe any explicit material, for more than 50 years it's been a fairly narrow legal category.
Unfortunately, there is no clear definition for obscenity under US law204in order for a work to be declared obscene, a prosecutor
must bring an obscenity case and secure an obscenity conviction. It is a very high standard to prove obscenity. There have been relatively few obscenity prosecutions in the last two decades, and even then for fairly extreme material.
Given this, it's unclear how the law can or will be applied to individual distributors or website owners. In theory, until a work is deemed obscene by a court, it would not be subject to the labeling requirements of this law. However,
could the Attorney General bring a case regardless?204and assume most adult companies would rather pay a $2500 fine than fight a lengthy and costly First Amendment case, even if they would likely prevail? We don't yet know.
What Are The Requirements?
You should read the text of the bill for yourself here. In addition to the warning, you're required to insert code so that prosecutors can easily detect if you are using the warning.
FSC believes the warning is compelled speech'204essentially, the government forcing you to express a specific message204 omething the First Amendment protects against. However, until someone challenges the law
in court, and wins, it remains the law.
Does It Apply to Companies Outside of Utah
Yes. Anyone with material publicly available on the web (or otherwise accessible to citizens of Utah) is subject to
this law. You need not market or otherwise sell anything specifically to Utahns in order to be subject to it. (A previous lawsuit over a similar labeling law successfully challenged this point, but it does not automatically extend to this law.)
How Should My Business Proceed?
As with many new laws, your degree of compliance will depend on your tolerance for risk. Will the law actually be enforced, or was it merely a political stand? Is it
constitutional? We can't answer those questions yet. Nor can we answer if the content hosted on your site is likely considered obscene in a court of law. For these questions, we can only recommend you speak with an attorney well-versed in First Amendment
A bill that requires porn producers to put a warning label on their products has gone into law without the governor's signature.
State governor Gary Herbert allowed House Bill 243 to take effect but opted not to sign it himself.
The bill was
significantly watered down from its original version. It first required a label on every pornographic video and publication declaring it was harmful to minors. By the time the bill passed the Utah State Legislature, it was modified to only cover what is
That sets a different legal standard and requires someone to take an adult site, studio or publication to court to have something defined as legally obscene.
US porn producers are unlikely to add warning labels to their products and
will challenge the constitutionality of the law if challenged,
Adult studio Evil Angel announced that the company is temporarily suspending production, effective Monday, March 16.
Evil Angel founder John Stagliano stated, The spread of the COVID-19 virus is unknown at this point. Evil Angel is stopping production
as of Monday morning, pending testing being available to performers. One thing the industry does well is testing. The company stated that its paramount consideration is the safety of performers and crew members.
A toned down version of a Utah bill requiring nonsense warning labels on pornography emerged from the Senate on Friday, one vote away from heading to the governor's desk.
Under the modified legislation, an adult content website would have to display a
now shortened , one-sentence statement: Exposing minors to obscene material could damage or negatively impact them. Alternatively, the website could embed in its metadata the searchable text, utahobscenitywarning.
Those who violate the mandate could
face fines of up to $2,500 per infraction. But pornography distributors wouldn't face repercussions for the occasional slip-up -- as long as they could prove they'd complied with the warning label mandate at least 75% of the time over the past six
The original bill did not include the metadata allowance and required a much lengthier denunciation of pornography that warned the material could impair brain and emotional development and cause low self-esteem and relationship problems if
shown to minors.
The Legislation was passed 20 - 6 ans now heads to the House, which will consider the changes made in the Senate.
The bill has now passed both the Utah House and Senate.
The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), a US adult trade group, has released a statement regarding Utah HB243, which would require all adult content in the state to include a warning label:
The Utah legislature is attempting to pass a new
law, HB243, that would require all obscene material distributed in the state to come with a five-second warning label stating that such material may damage or negatively impact minors. Anyone who does not comply can be sued by the Attorney General of
Utah, for a penalty of $2500 per violation.
Despite changes to the bill, HB243 remains a land mine of First Amendment issues. Affixing a state-mandated warning to an adult film, which enjoys First Amendment protections, is
fundamentally different from doing the same to a food product, which does not.
The bill's author, Rep. Brady Brammer, says that the labelling law will only apply to obscene content. However, there is no established legal
definition for obscenity 204 each case would have to be worked out through a lengthy and expensive legal process. However, the chilling effect on legal speech would be substantial.
HB243 is remarkably similar to a 2005 Utah
labeling bill, HB260, which was struck down in 2012 after a costly seven-year court battle. In the ensuing case, Florence v. Shetloff, a federal judge ruled that Utah could prosecute a person in communication with a specific minor, but could not
prosecute generally accessible websites. We don't know why the State of Utah would want to waste precious time and taxpayer dollars fighting an already-decided battle.
FSC supports the limiting of adult content to adults. That's
why we've worked closely with adult content filters to register adult content, and why adult sites carry the Restricted to Adults Label, which allows them to be easily blocked. If Rep. Brammer wants to limit access of adult content by minors, consumer
filters are a much more effective solution 204 and one that doesn't trample First Amendment protections.
Utah's lawmakers are calling for mandatory warning labels on all pornography distributed within the state.
House Bill 243, sponsored by Representative Brady Brammer requires the following warning label:
minors to pornography is known to the state of Utah to cause negative impacts to brain development, emotional development and the ability to maintain intimate relationships. Such exposure may lead to harmful and addictive sexual behavior, low
self-esteem, and the improper objectification of and sexual violence towards others, among numerous other harms.
Perhaps porn producers could add the note:
However it should be noted that any harms
supposedly caused by porn are as nothing compared to the harm that religion causes around the world.
The enforcement mechanism is based upon anti-porn activists complaining to the state's attorney general.
include the clear display of the warning label for 15 seconds on all videos, along with a prominent display on printed publications and websites, with the 15 second display requirement valid for all online videos and individual images.
The move is a
follow-up to 2016's declaration by Utah lawmakers that porn constitutes a public health crisis.
Comment: The bill is unsupported by scientific facts, and very clearly unconstitutional
The Free Speech Coalition representing the US adult trade has issued a statement responding to the Utah proposal:
A proposed bill in the Utah legislature would require adult content to carry a warning attesting to the
alleged dangers of viewing, or face a $2,500 fine. The bill is unsupported by scientific facts, and very clearly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that such requirements are compelled speech, and a violation of First Amendment
rights. The government can not force its citizens or organizations to convey a specific message, especially one political in nature.
The proponent, State Representative Brady Brammer, likens his proposal -- which would mandate a
fifteen-second clip before any video featuring nudity -- to warning labels on toxic chemicals. However, toxic chemicals are highly regulated, and not a form of speech. They possess no First Amendment protections. Videos, photographs, and live
performances are speech, and their creators are protected. (As for the dangers, the bill quotes no science or studies -- in fact, there is no credible evidence to support the legislator's claims.)
When it comes to adults,
consumption of adult entertainment has been shown to decrease stress, increase tolerance and produce more egalitarian attitudes toward women. Over the past two decades, the availability to adult content has skyrocketed, and yet the rates of divorce, teen
pregnancy and sexual assault have all fallen dramatically.
The scope of the bill is dangerously broad and would open not just explicit content, but mere nudity. All manner of film, video, and social media content could be subject
to prosecution. Under the bill, individual citizens are financially rewarded for bringing lawsuits against such content -- from a Game of Thrones clip to a Kim Kardashian selfie -- if it shows so much as a bared breast and does not carry a warning of the
We have no doubt that should this bill be passed, the likely targets would be a long list of targets social conservatives regularly deem obscene -- from feminist art and LGBTQ film to comprehensive sex education texts.
The State of Utah and its taxpayers would be on the hook for millions of dollars defending a law that is ultimately indefensible.
Adult content should be limited to adults, but this bill accomplishes little in that regard.
Instead, it punishes speech that is not in lock step with the moral views of the bill's proponent. If Rep. Brammer wants to keep minors from accessing adult material, he should work on a proven effective solution: helping parents be more involved in
their children's online lives and installing effective filters on their devices.
Update: Passed committee
12th February 2020.
Utah's House Judiciary Committee voted 9-2 in favor of the legislation, HB243 ,
after several strongly worded speeches about the harms of pornographic material.
Rep. Eric Hutchings said: I'm sorry, but if you want to threaten my kids, I'm not playing nice anymore,
And Rep. Travis Seegmiller said the bill's
proposed fine of up to $2,500 per violation didn't seem steep enough.
Representatives voted 60-12 in favor of HB243 ,
which seeks to curtail the prominence of pornography in the state -- and particularly its reach to children -- by requiring the inclusion of a warning label on printed materials or a 15-second advisory ahead of online content.
Failing to do so could
result in a $2,500 fine for each violation.
A bill that would impose civil penalties on pornography distributors who fail to put a warning label on obscene material passed through the Utah Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday.
However free speech
concerns have downgraded its purpose somewhat. The bill has been amended to replace a warning about 'pornography' , to be a warning about 'obscene material'.
The reason for the change is that obscenity is a higher legal standard and does not enjoy
constitutional protections. Bill sponsor Rep. Brady Brammersaid legal counsel has said that a narrowly tailored warning requirement like this would not violate the Constitution with respect to free speech.
However surely mainstream porn is not
considered to be obscene so the warning we be about material that is not generally available anyway.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, author of the mean minded AB5 bill which uses new standards to classify California workers as either employees or independent contractors, is working on a new bill, AB1850, which is expected to include
language that would clarify the employment status of adult industry performers, such as cam models, who utilize video streaming platforms.
The AB5 standards, known as the ABC Test and the Borello Test , have caused confusion, particularly among
California-based adult webcam models, as to whether AB5 would reclassify them as employees, even when they have no employer.
Last week California Assemblywoman Christina Garcia introduced Bill AB2389, initally she received support from adult trade
groups and Lorena Gonzalez but this support has now ebbed away after realising just how onerous the law would be.
As reported by XBIZ, several adult organizations, including APAG and the Free Speech Coalition, vocally criticized AB2389. Eventually,
Gonzalez announced she would pull her name from the legislation, and IEAU issued a formal apology for its participation in its drafting.
A Mississippi legislator has introduced two bills that would ban all online porn completely.
The bills authored by Republican Representative Tracy Arnold would not only ban porn in Mississippi but also would create a coalition of Southern states where
the porn ban would apply. Other states would need to join in the legislation, but among those Arnold's bill targets would be Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Oklahoma.
The states would join to create
what one of the bills, HB 1116 , calls an Area of Moral Decency.
Arnold's companion bill, HB 1120 , would bar social media platforms from carrying advertisements for obscene and pornographic content.
A newly proposed law in the state of Tennessee would block all internet porn sites, unless a user chooses to opt in to porn by going through a series of steps and typing in a unique password. The bill was introduced last week by Republican state
representative James Van Huss.
HB 2294 would require ISPs to provide parental controls that block access to a specific website or website category, and the category of pornography must be blocked by default.
Though Van Russ's Tennessee bill is
titled the Safer Internet for Minors Act , the text of the bill contains no specific means for restricting access to the required parental controls to users over 18, and no age verification requirement.
Sex workers have been waiting for our day in court for over 100 years, announced Kaytlin Bailey, Director of Communications for the group Decriminalize Sex Work, and finally, we're going to get it.
On January 24, sex workers and their allies won an
important victory in our ongoing constitutional challenge to SESTA/FOSTA, a federal law that attempts to erase the oldest profession from the Internet.
The sex workers are arguing that the government's censorship of internet websites used by sex
workers has led to more them being endangered by having to seek trade in unsafe spaces, such as walking teh street.
Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that their case can proceed to trial, where a federal judge will decide
whether SESTA/FOSTA interferes with the constitutional rights of website operators and their users.
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such
a claim actually endangers the health of the public.
The movement to declare pornography a public health crisis is rooted in an ideology that is antithetical to many core values of public health promotion and is a political stunt,
not reflective of best available evidence, write Dr. Kimberly M. Nelson and Dr. Emily F. Rothman, both faculty in the Department of Community Health Sciences at BUSPH.
While 17 U.S. states have introduced nonbinding resolutions
declaring pornography a public health crisis, the authors write that pornography does not fulfill the public health field's definition of one. Pornography use has increased steadily over time rather than spiking or reaching a tipping point; it does not
directly or imminently lead to death, disease, property destruction, or population displacement; and it does not overwhelm local health systems.
Instead, Nelson and Rothman write, the existing evidence suggests that there may be
negative health consequences for some people who use pornography, no substantial consequences for the majority, and even positive effects for some (for example, through safer sexual behaviors such as solo masturbation). Motivating people to use less
extreme pornography, and less frequently, are reasonable harm reduction goals, the authors write, instead of trying to end all use. Increasing pornography literacy would also be useful, they write; Dr. Rothman and colleagues outline their pornography
literacy program for Boston area adolescents in a paper in the same journal issue.
What is the harm of calling pornography a public health crisis? Nelson and Rothman argue that this mischaracterization can lead to unwarranted
policy or funding shifts, rather than saving the power to mobilize the public health workforce for real crises. Moreover, pathologizing any form of sexual behavior, including pornography use, has the potential to restrict sexual freedom and to
stigmatize, which is antithetical to public health, they write.