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Phones and porn: US state plans to block adult content as a default

One US state wants to block pornography on smartphones as a manufacturer default. The move, by la...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.16 22 Mar 2021


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Phones and porn: US state plan...

Phones and porn: US state plans to block adult content as a default

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.16 22 Mar 2021


Share this article


One US state wants to block pornography on smartphones as a manufacturer default.

The move, by lawmakers in Utah, would also see the manufacturer fined if it is not in place.

Newstalk's technology correspondent Jess Kelly told The Hard Shoulder the bill - known as 'HB 72' - has one purpose.

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"It's all about trying to restrict adult content from minors.

"Utah is notoriously a particularly religious area - there is a lobby group, predominantly from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have been backing this bill.

"The idea is that from January - whenever this bill passes - the beginning of the following year, any phone or tablet sold in the state would have to have porn blockers in place by default, regardless of who's buying the device."

If the software is not in place, the company who made the phone would get fined.

"So it's a pretty extreme approach on trying to prevent younger people from accessing adult material", Kelly said.

Freedom of internet concerns

But she explained it will not be a case of children disabling such measures.

"It's engrained in the DNA of the phone, and it's at manufacturer level that it can only be overridden.

"And it does pose a number of questions around how, and who decides, what is adult material.

"Say if you're sitting down and you're watching a film on Netflix on your phone: are all the sex scenes going to be taken out of it, are shoulders OK but chests are not?

"It gets into that type of definition.

"There's also the whole thing of access to the internet - the freedom to have access to the internet - and the issues and the consequences of not being able to have free access to the internet as well".

However, this bill would only be workable if five other states come onboard as well.

Kelly said: "Five states out of the entire world is not a huge amount, so you would have to question whether or not either more people come onboard with it - or is it really worth the while?

"And perhaps they need to look at selling particular phones for children that have this block in place, and then leaving the rest of the devices to adults.

"But there's nothing to stop a parent, for example, just buying the device for a child, getting the block removed and then giving them the phone".

Main image: Undated photo of a man looking at a mobile phone. Image: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

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HB 72 Jess Kelly Phonography Porn Blocker Smartphones The Hard Shoulder Utah

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