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Utah Governor Signs Legislation

Post by: Lauren Moustakas

Addressing the injustice of human trafficking and sexual exploitation requires addressing all forms of sexual exploitation, including that of pornography exposure of minors. In March the Governor of Utah took a historic step towards protecting minors online by signing the Device Filter Amendments (HB 72) into law. This groundbreaking legislation will require manufacturers of smartphones and tablets activated in the state of Utah to enable existing filters that block sexually explicit material deemed harmful to minors under Utah law. Under this legislation, adult access to protected speech is not restricted as adults are given a passcode upon the purchase of a device which will allow them to override or deactivate the filter on their device.

Devices do sometimes already come with filtering capabilities or can be downloaded onto a device by a parent seeking to protect their minor from harmful content. The problem is that such filters are either turned off when the device is purchased, are ineffective, or can be easily circumvented by a tech savvy minor. By requiring a filter to be built into a device and turned on upon activation, this legislation overcomes each weakness of current filtering options parents have at their disposal to protect minors online. Additionally, this legislation accomplishes its purpose through employing what the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. ACLU has identified as the least restrictive and most effective means – filters.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) as a leader in the anti-exploitation movement has been at the forefront of efforts to protect minors from pornography exposure. NCOSE has worked tirelessly in their efforts with the Utah Legislature to pass this legislation and have it signed into law by the Governor. You can read more about NCOSE’s work on this legislation here.

The Center for Global Justice is pleased to have been able to support NCOSE’s efforts with this legislation. Center law clerks and staff have provided legal research and writing support throughout the lifetime of this legislation. We are grateful to have been able to support NCOSE’s important work to end sexual exploitation and equip parents in Utah protect minors from sexual exploitation online. 

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.