Cambria Speaks at Senate Hearing, Supports Rating System

WASHINGTON — For the first time, a representative for the adult entertainment industry was present during a senate hearing on Internet pornography. Paul Cambria, general counsel to the Adult Freedom Foundation, spoke before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology Thursday during a hearing on “Protecting Children on the Internet.”

Cambria told senators that the adult industry would “welcome” an online ratings system.

Cambria did not speak until well into the hearing, following nearly two hours of proclamations by senators and myriad “experts” who spoke about the “devastating effects” of pornographic content.

When it came Cambria’s turn, however, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was clear with his intent, demanding that online porn companies undertake a voluntary rating system or face the wrath of government intervention.

“My advice to your clients is that you better do it soon or we will mandate it if you don't,” Stevens told Cambria.

In response, Cambria said the adult industry was ready to work with the government on voluntary regulations, at length professing to the senators what those in the industry already know: Most pornographers are ordinary people who make their money filming consenting adults having sex.

“The adult entertainment industry does not exploit children,” Cambria said. “The industry does not employ child performers and does not condone access by minors to materials created for the entertainment of adults.”

Cambria went on to assert that the government already was heavily involved in online pornography regulations and did not need to enact further legislation. Federal obscenity laws govern adult sites, he said, as do federal child porn laws, Can-Spam and voluntary regulations supported by the ASACP and the Free Speech Coalition.

“While no system is perfect, effective means of controlling children’s access to adult material on the Internet presently exist,” Cambria said.

To combat the admitted lack of perfection in the system, Cambria told senators that the adult industry would “welcome the opportunity” to work with the government to further improve age verification systems.

“The adult entertainment industry is ready, willing and able to discuss in a productive manner a rating system, tailored to the content that we’re dealing with, that would be similar to those used by the Motion Picture Association of America, the recording industry and the video game industry,” Cambria said. “Self-ratings of the materials could dovetail with filtering processes that allow parents to block unwanted sites, but at the same time not censor unlawfully the flow of information that would be available and acceptable to an adult.”

As part of that filtering, Cambria said the creation of a .kids top-level domain for “kids only” content would be far more beneficial at keeping adult content away from children than forcing adult sites into a .XXX domain, a move frequently referenced by many of the speakers.

“In a .XXX domain, foreign countries could totally ignore that and still send content in,” Cambria said. “Where as a .kids domain would be a situation where you could program your computer to only accept .kids content, so material fit for children would be all that could be accessed on that machine.”

Despite Cambria’s lengthy requests for unity, as well as his promises to work with adult producers to establish the proposed rating system, it’s unlikely the adult industry and the U.S. government will be bedfellows anytime soon.

Mark Pryor, D-Ark., a staunch supporter of the controversial .XXX top-level domain, perhaps symbolized the overall vibe of the group best when he told Cambria, flat out, “Clean up your act, or we’ll do it for you.”