(LifeSiteNews) — Lawmakers in Arkansas and Virginia recently advanced bills to protect children from accessing online pornography.
Both pieces of legislation require commercial entities to enact age verification policies to protect minors from exposure to sexually explicit content that is “harmful to minors.”
READ: Mississippi passes bill to protect children from digital pornography
“Pornography is creating a public health crisis and is a corroding influence on minors,” Arkansas’ SB 66 states. “Pornography contributes to the hyper-sexualization of minors and may lead to: low self-esteem; body image disorders; an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages; [and] increased desire among minors to engage in risky sexual behavior.”
The legislation further states that viewing pornography at a young age can result in “difficulty in forming or maintaining positive, intimate relationships; impact brain development and function; contribute to emotional and medical illnesses; shape deviant sexual arousal; and promote problematic or harmful sexual behaviors and addiction.”
The bill “provide[s] a civil remedy for damages against commercial entities that distribute material harmful to minors” and requires “reasonable age verification methods” for websites where more than one-third of content is harmful to minors.
“Reasonable age verification methods” include the requirement to provide “a digitized identification card, including a digital copy of a driver’s license; government-issued identification; or any commercially reasonable age verification method.”
Platforms which “knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes” sexually explicit material to minors will be “liable to an individual for damages resulting from a minor accessing the material harmful to minors, including court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees as ordered by the court.”
Similarly, those “found to have knowingly retained identifying information of an individual after access to the material has been granted” are liable for the same damages.
READ: Children continue to be sacrificed to our civilization’s most perverse addiction: pornography
SB 66 still needs to go through concurrence regarding amendments before it heads to Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be signed into law, according to Family Council.
In Virginia, lawmakers have approved SB 1515, which details similar guidelines to protect children from exposure to sexually explicit content online.
The bill defines “material harmful to minors” as “any description or representation of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse when it appeals to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors, is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors, and is, when taken as a whole, lacking in serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”
The legislative language has been changed to exclude homosexual depictions under the definition of explicit “sexual conduct.”
All platforms that produce pornography are required to use “a commercially available database that is regularly used by businesses or governmental entities for the purpose of age and identity verification or another commercially reasonable method of age and identity verification, verify that any person attempting to access such material harmful to minors is 18 years of age or older.”
Violators of the bill “shall be subject to civil liability for damages resulting from a minor’s access” to pornographic material as well as “reasonable attorney fees and costs.”
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has until Monday, March 27, to sign or veto the bill.
READ: Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs law restricting LGBT ideology, CRT, sexual materials in schools
This is not the first piece of legislation in either state to defend childhood innocence and aimed at protecting children from inappropriate content. In February 2022, Virginia passed a bill requiring public schools to inform parents of any instructional material that is sexually explicit. The legislation also requires that parents be given the opportunity to opt-out of the assignment on behalf of their children.
Similarly, Gov. Sanders signed a law earlier this month to ban the use of materials promoting critical race theory and gender ideology in public schools. Sanders has also signed legislation that bans minors from attending “adult-oriented performances,” including explicit drag shows.
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