Republican Admits Ultimate Goal of Arkansas Age Verification Bill is Federal Law

Republican Admits Ultimate Goal of Arkansas Age Verification Bill is Federal Law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Republican state senator in Arkansas who introduced a bill last month requiring age verification before “entering a website offering pornography” admitted that his state initiative is only a stepping stone toward the ultimate goal of a federal mandate.

Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs) made the unusually candid admission today to Motherboard tech reporter Samantha Cole, who regularly covers issues around adult content online.

“My hope is that we protect children and their innocence in [the] state of Arkansas and then send a message across the country that we need something similar built into federal law as well,” Dees told Cole regarding his Senate Bill 66, which proposes a “Protection of Minors from Distribution of Harmful Material Act” and is co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Petty (R-Van Buren).

The proposed legislation is a copycat version of Louisiana’s Act 440, a new law enacted in January after being championed by a religious anti-porn activist Republican legislator.

Dees, also an executive in a poultry plant who says he spends his free time “in Bible study,” told Motherboard that SB 66 was “inspired by many constituents in my district who are concerned about the growing problems related to pornography and the advancement of technology and devices around our children.”

The state senator also referred to a supposed “explosion” in the ability of children to access online content.

As XBIZ reported, Dees’ proposed bill requires a “digitized identification card” to prove the age of anyone from Arkansas trying to enter “any website with over 23.33% of its material meeting the pornography description.”

The bill also claims that “pornography is creating a public health crisis and contributes to the hyper-sexualization of minors,” NBC affiliate KARK reported.

Dees’ SB 66 — promoted amidst what Free Speech Coalition has called a wave of “the most aggressive censorship we've seen in decades” — also includes the state senator’s definition of what kinds of material would constitute “pornography.”

Republicans throughout the country are currently seeking to outlaw all adult content by overturning the 1973 “Miller Test” differentiating First Amendment-protected sexual material from illegal “obscene” material produced to appeal to “a prurient interest.”

Main Image: Anti-porn Arkansas State Senator Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs) (Photo: Arkansas Senate)

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