Utah's Warning Label For Pornography Applauded as a Way to Protect Children

By Michael W. Chapman | April 3, 2020 | 1:34pm EDT
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(Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) -- On April 1, Utah enacted a new law requiring warning labels on pornography, a step the National Center On Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) praised as "an innovative way to warn the public that pornography is harmful, especially to minors."

The "Warning Labels" law states that pornography in the state must include a label that reads, "Exposing minors to obscene material may damage or negatively impact minors." If the porn is a video or film, it must display the warning for at least five seconds.

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(Getty Images)

If porn-makers do not include the label, they could be charged and fined $2,500 per violation. Individual citizens or the state attorney general's office can file a claim against a pornographer under the new law. 

The law applies to porn that is considered "obscene," which, legally, could exclude a lot of adult material. However, "obscene" pornography does not have legal protection. 

"Obscenity is really the worst of the worst," said State Rep. Brady Brammer (R), the chief sponsor of the bill, as reported by Fox13Now

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(Getty Images)

“Utah’s new ‘Warning Labels’ bill is an innovative way to warn the public that pornography is harmful, especially to minors," said Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director for the NCOSE.  

"As Utah was the first state to approve a resolution recognizing the public health harms of pornography, including its harms on the psychological, social, and physical development of youth, this bill is a natural next step in protecting the most vulnerable," she said.  "We commend the Utah Legislature for its work to protect children from the harms of hardcore pornography, which often included themes of incest, racism, and extreme violence."

The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), which defends and promotes the pornography industry, said in a March statement about the bill, the "FSC supports the limiting of adult content to adults. That’s why we’ve worked closely with adult content filters to register adult content, and why adult sites carry the Restricted to Adults Label, which allows them to be easily blocked."

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(Getty Images)

"If Rep. Brammer wants to limit access of adult content by minors, consumer filters are a much more effective solution -- and one that doesn’t trample First Amendment protections," said the FSC. 

Brammer told Fox13Now that he expects the labeling law to be challenged in court.

"I would expect they’ll start by filing a lawsuit to prevent it from going into place and then we’ll see how the courts treat it," he said. "We’ve been hesitant to draw a line anywhere and it does challenge the courts to say, 'We’ll draw a line' and whether or not Utah is permitted to allow things to come into our state without warning and without any type of prohibition regardless of whether it is obscene content as not."

Commenting further on the issue, Dawn Hawkins said, “Children are at the greatest risk as research shows such exposure to pornography affects their developing brains, and the younger and more frequently children are exposed to pornography, the more problematic it becomes. Utah’s bill is much like warning labels for tobacco products, and will go a long way towards protecting children."

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(Getty Images)

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