Rhode Island Legislators Want To Charge $20 And Verify Your Identity Before Allowing You To View Porn Online

Senior Contributor
03.07.18 6 Comments

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There is no bigger industry on the internet than pornography, and legislators are very, very concerned about it, to the point where they’ll declare it, without evidence, a public health hazard while assault rifles aren’t. And it is reasonable to have a discussion about porn and its presence in our society, provided it is a mature one that faces a few basic facts about sexual desire, the right to privacy, and the right to our own bodies. Rhode Island’s legislature would rather charge you a double sawbuck and put your name in a government database as a known porn watcher.

A new bill proposed in the Rhode Island state legislature would require internet service providers in the state to default to blocking “sexually explicit” content. You can lift the block, but you have to prove that you’re 18, give the government your name and address, and pay a one-time fee of $20. The stated goal is to keep children from looking at pornography, as well as block child pornography and “revenge porn.” Those are noble goals, but it’s unclear why a masturbation tax will solve them, even if the money will go to the state attorney general to fund anti-human trafficking operations.

There’s a whole bunch of problems here, but the most basic is that the bill won’t work. Leaving aside the ethics of the government demanding to know whether you want the option to go to town on yourself, not to mention the chaos that would result when that list inevitably leaks, there’s the simple matter that sexual desire is subjective. If you block the various tube sites, people will just turn to Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, or buy virtual private network software to convince their ISP that they’re really visiting from Delaware or whatever. Back in the days of Ancient Greece, they only had pottery to work with and still cranked out piles of raunch. We, as a society, need to start admitting sexual desire is a common thread, not an aberration, and design policy accordingly, or it will continue to fail.

(via Jezebel)

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