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“Surfing Porn Just Got Harder: GOP Passes Bill Requiring Age Verification Tech

In a push to regulate pornography, a U.S. Republican lawmaker has proposed a bill that would require websites containing sexually explicit content to put age-verification technologies in place. Representative Mark Green of Tennessee introduced the bill last week and it has been sent to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for consideration. If the bill passes, websites would be mandated to collect and use measures such as credit card verification or other age-verification software to ensure that users are of the appropriate age. The bill, called the Age Verification Requirement for Online Safety Act, is an effort to protect minors from viewing harmful and explicit content online. The proposed regulation is the latest of a series of legislative pushes by the GOP to limit access to pornography. This includes the bipartisan EARN IT Act which was introduced at the beginning of May. That bill aims to crack down on sharing of child sexual abuse material online. Congressman Green said in a statement, “Viewing pornographic material has been linked in many studies to a decrease in mental and physical health and to perpetuation of violence against women and girls. The online marketplace creates an especially hazardous environment for minors. Our bill will help protect minors from risk by imposing age-verification requirements for websites containing pornography.” While the Age Verification Requirement for Online Safety Act may help protect minors from harm, some have voiced their opposition to the proposed bill. Critics argue that such regulation of the internet is a slippery slope, and worry that mandating age-verification technologies could threaten the privacy of users. Others argue against the bill on the grounds that it does not go far enough in tackling the root causes of the issue, such as addiction among consumers or the lucrative market behind the online pornography industry. At the moment the bill is in its early stages and the next step is for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to consider it and decide whether to advance it further.