Arizona Bill Would Charge Porn Consumers $20 to Fund Trump’s Border Wall


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An Arizona lawmaker introduced a House bill this month that would charge people in the state $20 to access porn on their own devices.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s yet another attempt at blocking porn with arbitrary fees and fines—this time, the lawmaker wants to take the money raised and use it to fund a border wall.

According to the bill, called the “Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act,” all devices that access the internet sold in Arizona would be required to have porn blocker software pre-installed, and distributors who fail to do so would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The Arizona Mirror reports:

Republican Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, has introduced House Bill 2444, which would make “distributors” of devices that allow access to the internet install software to make the offending material not viewable. To remove the blocking software, a person would have to pay the state $20.

His name isn’t explicitly on the bill, but the legislation’s title is the same as model legislation pitched by Chris Sevier, an anti-porn troll with an uncanny ability to convince legislators in almost 20 states to introduce porn-blocking bills. The legislation itself is very similar to legislation introduced in Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Utah, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Last year, I spoke to Sevier, who told me that he is behind many of these state-level efforts. He said that individual states customize the bills; this is the first one to that would use fees paid to the state to unblock porn to “build a border wall between Mexico and this state or fund border security,” the bill reads.

“Sometimes states start with putting a spin on it,” Sevier told me in March 2018. “I’m working on so many versions it’s ridiculous.” Motherboard does not know whether Sevier is personally involved in the Arizona legislation, though its wording and title are very similar to legislation proposed in other states. Each of these bills has a few key similarities: To block porn from devices using some kind of software that’s mandatory for distributors to install, and to charge a fee to unblock it—usually $20. The Arizona bill states that it could also go by the title “Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act,” which is a crusade Sevier started.

The Arizona version would form the “John McCain Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Fund,” which would then be used to fund a wall. The McCain Institute did not immediately respond to a question from Motherboard asking if the McCain family has any knowledge of the fund or is supportive of it.

Sevier (who goes by several different pseudonyms including Mark Sevier, Chris Severe, or a combination of the two), is most famous for trying to marry a computer in protest of gay marriage and suing Apple for his own porn addiction. Attorneys for the ACLU have called his efforts “an unconstitutional cash grab for an internet filter” and “an attempt to infringe on people’s rights,” while the Electronic Frontier Foundation has said that these bills would be a blow to free speech.

But they never pass. When the Rhode Island bill was introduced last year, I spoke with the sponsoring lawmakers there about whether they’d done any research around the bill, or had plans for how it would be enforced. The short answer was, no.

This bill demonstrates, yet again, the power of advocates for various causes to get identical (or very similar) legislation introduced at a state level. All it takes is one or a few lawmakers to introduce the legislation and create new talking points. It’s the same tactic that has been used by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and big telecom to pass industry-friendly bills in many states and anti-abortion activists like Americans United for Life to get more than 60 pieces of legislation considered in states around the country.

This latest bill will likely fizzle out in Arizona just like the other, similar porn-blocking bills in the past. But it’s concerning that lawmakers continue to do little research around the legislation they support—especially when the consequences would erode constitutional rights.

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