Utah Congressman Proposes Porn Site Tax, Software to Block Minors

Feb 22, 2011 8:00 AM PST
SALT LAKE CITY — Legislation aimed at levying a 25 percent tax on porn sites along with a special age verification software mandate is being prepared by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-UT.

The bill is targeted at restricting minors from accessing adult material on the Internet.

According to reports, the proposal would impose the tax on sales of porn and be used to fund the enforcement of age-filtration software, similar to the process used for online tobacco and alcohol retailers.

Matheson maintained that the same restrictions put on adult brick-and-mortar stores should be applied to Internet porn sites

The Utah Congressman wants to implement age-verification software that would cross check personal information such as birth dates and government-issued information against billions of records from several reliable sources. Without a match, access would be denied.

"Historically (pornography) has been age-restricted at a point of sale that's a brick-and-mortar store. For us to assume that since it's on the Internet that we should ignore it is wrong. As a society we've already made a decision that we want to restrict sales to a certain age," Matheson said.

He told Utah’s Deseret News, "People say, 'Oh, there are going to be ways to get around it.' I understand, but I think we need to make the effort to do what we can and I'm not going to sit back and do nothing.”

He added, "I think it's incumbent on us to not throw up our hands and say, 'Oh my gosh, it's such a dispersed problem — there's nothing we can do.' Well, let's look at what we can do, make some progress. It may not get to the finish line, but let's make some progress.

The action is nothing new to Matheson, according to reports. In 2005 and 2006 the Energy and Commerce member has supported similar bills including Sen. Blanche Lincoln's Internet Safety and Child Protection Act.

The lawmaker is hoping that new technology such as easy access to websites on cell phones will help illustrate his concerns, unlike previous efforts stymied by arguments that may no longer be applicable.

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