BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Legislature is trying to protect children from porn and they’re asking for adults to present their ID when trying to access it.
HB142 by Representative Laurie Schlegel, R-Metairie, looks to protect minors from seeing content online that could be harmful to them, such as pornography. The bill would push commercial entities to create an age verification process before allowing people to view their content.
The bill doesn’t force the companies to make the verification system, per se. It does allow Louisianans to sue the companies for not having it. Adults would have to input their driver’s license or other state ID to prove they are over the age of 18.
The representative is a counselor and a sex addiction therapist. She said children have much easier access to pornography than they used to and seeing some of the graphic scenes can have damaging effects on kids.
“We’re walking around with little porn devices, computers, 24/7. So now it’s pervasive and invasive because the internet is like TV and the radio,” Rep. Schlegel said.
She cites Dr. Gail Dines, an anti-porn advocate with statistics on how prevalent pornography is for kids.
“Research shows that children under the age of 10 now account for 22 percent of underage online porn consumption. While 10-14-year-olds make up 36% of minor consumers,” Rep. Schlegel said. “The average of first exposure to pornography is 11 years old and some estimate it’s now younger.”
The bill specifically is focused on commercial entities such as major porn sites that have over 30% of their content being harmful to kids. There was a question of if this would affect sites like Twitter or Netflix that may have pornography, but Schlegel said that is not her intent with the bill.
She points to applications like LA Wallet, an app that stores state identification, which could be used for digital verification. Representatives from LA Wallet said there would have to be some development to create the verification on a desktop computer. But Schlegel said there would be other ways for people to input their information.
There is also an aspect of the bill that would also allow someone to sue the company for keeping their information. Her bill would make it so the verification would only reveal if the user is over 18, no other information or even the birth date could be passed to the site.
Rep. Schlegel said she is not trying to limit adults from accessing pornography, she just wants to protect vulnerable children from seeing it at a young age.
“Unlimited access to pornography on the internet is causing a public health crisis for our children,” Rep. Schlegel said.
Similar laws were struck down over criminal aspects of the legislation. This bill focuses on the civil side, which the representative believes will stand up to constitutional muster. Louisiana would be the first state to have legislation of this kind. It passed out of the committee without any opposition.