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Thursday, May 30, 2024

GOP Sen. Mike Lee proposes bill that could ban access to Internet porn in the US

GOP Sen. Mike Lee proposes bill that could ban access to Internet porn in the US

Republican Sen. Mike Lee introduced a measure that some in the adult film industry believe could redefine obscenity and could upend the Internet porn industry. 
Lee, of Utah, introduced the one-page bill, titled the Interstate Obscenity Definition Act, on December 14. The bill would "establish a national definition of obscenity that would apply to obscene content" that's transmitted online. 

"Obscenity is not protected speech under the First Amendment and is prohibited from interstate or foreign transmission under U.S. law. But obscenity is difficult to define (let alone prosecute) under the current Supreme Court test for obscenity," the proposed act said. 

While it's currently legal to produce porn in the US, the Supreme Court has a set of standards to determine if materials are obscene, which is not legally protected. According to the three-pronged test, materials are considered obscene if they appeal to "prurient interests," depict "sexual conduct in a patently offensive way," and lack "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

Lee's bill would take the same test but scrap the second prong about depicting sex in a "patently offensive way." Instead, his bill says materials would be obscene if they depict "actual or simulated sexual acts with the objective intent to arouse, titillate, or gratify the sexual desires of a person." 

The bill was introduced to the Senate on December 14, according to Congressional records. It has yet to gain any co-sponsors.

A spokesperson for Lee did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Saturday. 

Members of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association that protects the rights of those in the adult film industry criticized Lee's bill in a Thursday tweet, saying it "would remove porn's First Amendment protections, and effectively prohibit distribution of adult material in the US."


Mike Stabile, public affairs director with the Free Speech Coalition, also told VICE News that the bill "has gotten a huge amount of attention." 

"Our members understand this for what it is: It's a threat to their business, to their livelihood. It's a threat to their community," Stabile said, per VICE.
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