Va. Legislators Weigh $20 Paywall to Access Porn

Va. Legislators Weigh $20 Paywall to Access Porn
Rhett Pardon

RICHMOND, Va. — A new proposal targeting and taxing the consumption of adult content is now before Virginia lawmakers.

Virginia House Bill 1592, introduced two weeks ago, would lock all pornographic sites from user devices — from desktops to smartphones — until the state is paid a digital access fee of $20

The bill also requires distributors of adult content to remit an identical fee of the same amount for each production, and further makes it a crime to sell products that don’t include software that would render adult content inaccessible.

Funds garnered under the proposed HB 1592 would go straight to a newly created Virginia Prevention of Human Trafficking Victim Fund, which will be administered for the purposes of supporting victim services and the prosecution of human trafficking cases, according to language of the bill.

Eric Paul Leue, the Free Speech Coalition’s executive director, told XBIZ that has seen no less than 34 similar bills introduced in state legislatures — often under the title "Human Trafficking Prevention Act."

“All of these bills have either died in committee or chamber, or are otherwise stalled. Should they pass, we have no doubt they would be declared unconstitutional,” Leue said

What does concern the FSC, Leue said, is the willingness of right-wing conservatives to use "human trafficking" to disguise otherwise unconstitutional limitations in the form of filters, blocks, or bans  — and in doing so minimize and undermine actual counter human-trafficking efforts.

“Despite right-wing fever dreams, the adult industry has been long been unified in its opposition to coercive, fraudulent or deceptive practices, and we have often worked with counter-trafficking organizations, performer organizations, and law enforcement to raise awareness,” Leue said.

“The legislation isn't really about preventing human trafficking, it's about reframing the debate over the legality of adult entertainment,” Leue said. “Such legislation is red meat to evangelical voters, and encouragement for a president who has already signed a pledge to rid porn of first amendment protections.

“It is crucial that the adult entertainment industry sees these bills in context, not only in relation to dangerous legislation like SESTA and FOSTA, but the repeal of net neutrality — all ways of chipping away at free speech. This is not about countering trafficking; this is about a moral agenda."

Related: