AR Briefly

Senate approves bill requiring pornography sites to verify age

By: - February 1, 2023 3:15 pm
Sen. Tyler Dees

Sen. Tyler Dees presented his bill aimed at protecting children from accessing harmful materials like pornography online to a Senate committee Jan. 31, 2023. The full Senate passed the bill on Feb. 1, 2023.(Photo: Screenshot from livestream)

The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to require pornography websites to verify users’ ages. Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs) first introduced the bill in committee Tuesday, saying the purpose of the legislation is to protect minors from harmful material online.

Senate Bill 66 defines “material harmful to minors” as material that’s designed to appeal or pander to “prurient interest,” meaning overtly sexual in behavior. 

A similar law went into effect on Jan. 1 in Louisiana. Users have complained about technical problems with the rollout of third-party age verification software and expressed privacy concerns, according to the Louisiana Illuminator

Lawmakers have also expressed privacy concerns regarding the Arkansas legislation, which allows websites to accept digital copies of driver’s licenses to meet the age verification requirement. 

Sen. Fred Love (D-Mabelvale) asked on Wednesday who would store the personal information submitted to websites. Sen. Dees said personal data must “be verified and dumped.” If commercial entities hold on to personal data and it’s leaked, the bill allows for damages to be brought against a commercial entity, Dees said.

SB 66 passed the Senate 32-0 and will next be heard by a House committee.

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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.