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Utah lawmaker wants to put porn blockers on cell phones

Technically Incorrect: The state that believes pornography is a public health threat wants to take prophylactic measures.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


But what's going to happen when VR porn is all the rage? Can Utah cope?

James Martin/CNET

Keen watchers of Utah will know that it's undergoing a desperate public health crisis.

No, it's not Zika.

It's porn.

The state's governor has already signed a bill declaring pornography "a public health hazard."

Now, Utah wants to put porn blockers on all cell phones in the state.

Republican Senator Todd Weiler is keen to take every possible step so that humans aren't infected by porn.

He's drafting a bill that would require cellphones to have porn blockers inserted. These would only be released once the state is absolutely sure the owner of the phone is 18 or over.

Weiler told me that porn's bad influence on public health is considerable.

"Porn can definitely contribute to both violence and sexism," he said. "A recent study found that 92 percent of the pornographic videos available online demonstrated violence against women."

Weiler said he didn't have the source of that study on hand, but pointed me to another study, courtesy of an organization called Stop Porn Culture, that claimed 88.2 percent of top-rated porn scenes "contain aggressive acts."

And how many top-rated Hollywood movies "contain aggressive acts"?

Weiler's concern, though, is that children will be adversely influenced.

"Almost every kid in Utah is walking around with a smart phone, which is basically a vending machine for porn in a lot of respects," he told Fox 13.

It's unclear whether Utah has some vast specific problem of underage individuals whose brains have become addled by pornographic material. It's also unclear whether there's unnaturally high demand for porn in Utah.

Indeed, PornHub's figures suggest that the state languishes in 34th place for traffic to its site. If you take into account Utah's population, that makes it an average porn state.

Moreover, the average Utah porn-seeker spends a mere 9 minutes and 15 seconds on PornHub. This is 36 seconds below the national average. You can draw your own conclusions from such a flaccid statistic.

Still, Weiler says he's following the example of the UK, which enacted laws to force ISPs to have porn filters, making porn an opt-in activity.

The UK, however, discovered the filters can block the wrong sites, such as those that help with alleged porn addiction. (There's no medical agreement on whether there is such a thing as porn addiction.)

"I'm sure no filter is perfect," Weiler told me. "But hopefully they will improve with each passing month and year."

Utah marches forward on its high horse, one hand on its outstretched lance.

"Everything I am doing and everything I am trying to do is about protecting children," Weiler told Fox 13. "If adults want to look at pornography, that's their constitutional right."

It's a right, however, that Weiler's proposal would make harder for adults to exercise.

Of course, one wonders whether Internet service providers and cell phone manufacturers will be in the mood to make special filters just for Utah.

I suspect they might pass on Weiler's come-hither.

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