Upstate Lawmakers aim to block porn on internet devices sold in SC

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – An Upstate lawmaker wants to control the images you see on your home computer or any internet connected device purchased in South Carolina. It’s one of the pre-filed bills set to be discussed in 2017.

Greenville based Representative Mike Burns is the man behind the proposal, who says it’s the first step in preventing human trafficking.

“Once you get into this, it becomes addictive and one step leads to another and you get into a free fall,” said Burns.

Burns said porn that is easily accessed on smart phones and computers leads to greater issues like prostitution rings and human trafficking.

“If your device comes and it’s predisposed, first, to filter out this kind of stuff, you wouldn’t see some of the stuff that normally a kid or an adult could be able to see,” said Burns.

Dubbed “The Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” it would making an obscenity filter that burns says is already present in internet accessible devices a requirement, not a request, in South Carolina.

“Now in places, you have to go pay to have it activated. They’ve got it exactly backwards. The filter needs to be put on first,” said Burns.

According to his bill, manufacturers or sellers would be fined if they sold a device in the Palmetto State without a digital block installed. Likewise, they could pay a 20 dollar opt out fee for each device they sell.

The buyer also gets the option to pay for removal.

“If an adult over 18 wants to have it taken off, then they can pay about 20 bucks to have it taken off,” said Burns.

That money would go into a fund with the state Attorney Generals office, focusing on ending human trafficking in South Carolina. Burns calls the move a “necessary start” to ending a huge problem and to protect children and families.

“It’s going to be an uphill climb at the beginning, but once people understand exactly what we are trying to do, it’s going to be a difficult issue to run away from,” said Burns.

Burns says the filter would block anything state and federal agencies have flagged as obscene, including known online human trafficking and prostitution hubs. It would also require an option for people to flag obscene material that the filter didn’t catch.

While local groups and law enforcement agencies are offering support for the bill, many national reports and social media discussions have called the bill an “over-reach” and “too much government control.”

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