Growing Support in MN Legislature for Pornography Age-Verification

Republicans in the Minnesota House, along with several Democrats, are sponsoring a bill to set up age verification for internet pornography. The pornography epidemic does not fall between the lines of a single party and affects the whole populace.

Glenn Gruenhagen

Republicans in the Minnesota House, along with several Democrats, are sponsoring a bill to set up age verification for internet pornography. The pornography epidemic does not fall between the lines of a single party and affects the whole populace.

The language of the MN house of representative’s bill states that “Pornographic material” means anything included in a video, image, or series of images “that is reasonably assumed from its nature to be produced solely or principally for sexual arousal.” Furthermore, a “civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation” of age verification may be laid on the provider of online pornographic material.

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R), the chief author of the bill, agrees with many opponents of pornography that the industry is often accredited to the rise in divorce rates, as well as destroying the dignity of the women involved through prostitution and sex trafficking. There is no sure way for the viewer of internet pornography to be certain a woman is “freely consenting” in the sexual act or not. Similarly, almost impossible to verify if she is of legal age.

These legal challenges do not even scratch the surface of pornography’s pernicious effects. The Michigan State Police Department found that pornography is used or imitated in over 40% of the sex crimes they investigate.

There is widespread precedent for such a push on regulating this type of material. Regulation of online pornography has been around since 1997, with the landmark Reno v. ACLU case that decided to allow arousing material on the internet.

The UK is implementing a similar ban as part of the Digital Economy Act. The law was initially due in mid-July of this year. However, it has been delayed due to the “administrative oversight” that comes along with a such a contentious topic.

The UK’s system works by identifying an IP address that is attempting to access a website with pornographic content, which mandates the person browsing the web to verify his or her age. It is up to each individual pornographic provider to implement the technology that allows people to prove they are old enough to view the material. 

U.S. Federal law already prohibits the distribution of obscene material, specifically child pornography. Yet, the law is not applied or enforced as it should be and thus legislators are taking the steps to contain the epidemic and punish those who break the laws.