Oklahoma Senators Express Concern Over Republican's Age Verification Bill

Oklahoma Senators Express Concern Over Republican's Age Verification Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate this week passed the state’s version of the age verification legislation being sponsored around the country by anti-porn religious conservative activists, after a lengthy debate during which lawmakers expressed reservations about the bill.

SB 1959 was introduced by Republican senator Jerry Alvord, and is distinct from similar measures being discussed in other states in that it “would require companies such as Pornhub to provide internet service subscribers and cellphone users in Oklahoma a way to opt out of accessing material they consider harmful to minors,” Tulsa World reported.

“After receiving such a request, the company would be required to block access to its site by any device linked to the person’s Internet service or cell service subscription,” the Tulsa World report explained.

During the debate, Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd (D) said, “We know that this type of language has been challenged and disputed in court. My concern is that we are setting the state up for a lawsuit. It’s going to be expensive, … (and) we are going to lose.”

The Tulsa World article noted that SB 1959 would potentially make sites that fail to comply with an opt-out request liable for damages.

“However, they could avoid that outcome by using ‘reasonable age verification’ methods to restrict access to content,” the paper explained. “The Attorney General’s Office would be tasked with developing and publishing guidance for commercial entities to follow in complying with the law.”

Alvord said the measure would apply only to sites on which more than 30% of material is considered pornographic, to which Democratic Senator Julia Kirt replied, “We also don’t know who is going to be making the determination on the 30% threshold. So it sounds an awful lot like Big Brother making the determination for what a family can access.”

Posting on X, Free Speech Coalition Director of Public Affairs Mike Stabile commented that Oklahoma Republicans seem unaware that the adult industry already proactively labels adult content in order to enable filtering, and has been doing so for a long time.

“They don’t realize it, but they’re describing RTA — an opt-in tag invented by the adult industry to identify our sites and allow people to opt-out en masse,” Stabile wrote. “We’ve been using it for decades.”

“This is why you bring the adult industry into discussions,” Stabile added. “The world is suddenly on fire about kids online, but we’ve been working on these issues for years. If you’d stop demonizing us, you’d find we know more about this, and how to stop it, than anyone. Why would you create a complicated system where a parent literally has to write to every porn site and ask for them to block their home, when ISP filters and device level filters using RTA exist?”

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