Tennessee Republican Proposes Felony Charges in Copycat Age Verification Bill

Tennessee Republican Proposes Felony Charges in Copycat Age Verification Bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican state Rep. Patsy Hazlewood on Wednesday filed an age verification bill with the Tennessee state legislature, a copycat version of the numerous age verification bills being advanced by religious conservatives and anti-porn crusaders around the country.

HB 1614, the Protect Tennessee Minors Act, requires adult websites to match the face of any visitor in Tennessee to a government-issued ID photograph.

“This legislation will apply the same safeguards and restrictions to the online world that we already have in place in the physical world,” the 74-year-old state legislator said. “The standard should be the same.”

According to Hazlewood, whose background before entering politics was in the telephone industry and finance, “Exposing children to pornography is a form of child sexual abuse and exploitation that can severely damage a child’s intellectual development and emotional well-being. It can lead to difficulty in forming and maintaining positive relationships.”

Hazlewood’s bill “would create a Class C felony for website owners and operators convicted of violating the law,” the local ABC news affiliate reported, adding that, if passed, it would empower the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security to enforce it.

Most recently, Hazlewood was one of the most vocal proponents of the expulsion of Democratic lawmakers from the Tennessee legislature in April, after they protested the state’s lax gun-ownership regulations.

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