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South Carolina’s Human Trafficking Prevention Act Is a Shell Game

A South Carolina legislator has proposed a bill, known as the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, that would block internet pornography from being accessed on devices sold within the state, but not everything is as it seems.

Many of you have probably heard about a recent proposed bill in South Carolina: The Human Trafficking Prevention Act, which would require that porn-blocking software be installed on every digital device sold in the state. A number of news websites have done bits on the bill, but few of them discuss what strikes me as the most obvious feature of it: that the bill’s actual purpose is something completely different from its stated purpose. The real purpose of this bill is to shame and humiliate adults who want to look at porn.

However, let us begin by giving the bill a fair chance and considering its stated purpose: to fund the prevention of human trafficking and protect children from pornography. It does neither of those things particularly well. If it were passed into law, the bill would require that any device capable of accessing the internet sold in South Carolina would have to be loaded by default with software that blocks all internet pornography. Let us set aside for the moment whether that is even possible, because the law continues that the blocking functionality may be disabled if the buyer:

(1)    requests in writing that the capability be disabled;

(2)    presents identification to verify that the consumer is eighteen years of age or older;

(3)    acknowledges receiving a written warning regarding the potential danger of deactivating the digital blocking capability; and

(4)    pays a one-time twenty dollar digital access fee.

What this bill would do, in essence, is require that purchasers of digital devices pay a $20.00 fee in order to access pornography on the device. Incidentally, the “human trafficking prevention” part is that the money raised from these $20.00 fees would go towards human trafficking prevention. This is obviously stupid, as government funds are fungible and if the human trafficking task force needs more money then the government can just give them more money. This aspect is a pure PR stunt, and I won’t waste further time on it.

However, if the goal is to block children from internet pornography but still permit adults to view it, then this bill makes no sense at all, as the software outlined in the bill would be “all or nothing” — either all porn is blocked on the device, or no porn is. It would be impossible for a parent to set up the software to allow themselves to view porn but restrict their children from doing so. The software would presumably be difficult or impossible to remove from the device after purchase (otherwise how could they justify a charge of $20 to remove it?) and so would be, in essence, a form of ransomware that would have to be written just to support this bill. The Human Trafficking Prevention Act would therefore be both extremely expensive and very bad at achieving its purported goals.

Now imagine what sort of bill one would propose if the goal was actually to reduce the chance that a child would be exposed to internet pornography. I think the immediately obvious answer is to require that computers be sold with a copy of the sort of parental control software that already exists — like NetNanny — in exchange for a small device tax. These programs allow the parent to carefully control and monitor the behavior of their children on the internet, allow the parent or adult to turn the software off for their own viewing pleasure, and could be included with devices for a tiny fraction of the cost of enforcing the proposed Human Trafficking Prevention Act and its ocean of new red tape. So, why does South Carolina’s new bill not go this route?

The answer is that this bill is only really about one thing: shame. Rep. Bill Chumley of South Carolina doesn’t like porn, and while he can’t effectively ban it outright, he can propose a bill to shame and humiliate people who do like porn. The real goal of this bill is its enforcement — if you want to want to disable the porn filtering on a device you are buying, you have to make a request in writing to the seller, along with signing a waiver about the “danger” of removing the filter and paying $20. This requires that someone publicly announce their desire to use the device for porn, and makes them jump through embarrassing hoops. Furthermore, the $20 charge means that their receipts and credit card records would all also show that they bought the “porn-enabled device,” making it effectively impossible to conceal from parents, spouses, or others who might inquire.

This bill is mostly a publicity stunt, and is very unlikely to ever become a law, but it is important to recognize what it represents. It is not a poorly drafted bill aimed at protecting children — it is a calculated attack on the rights of adults to watch porn in their own homes without first notifying the government and filling out the requisite pornography request forms (in triplicate). It is an attack aimed at us, and with the Republican party platform now claiming that porn is a “public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions,” we need to recognize that more like it are coming.

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  • Bunkercake

    Yet again governmental self-declared moral gatekeepers attempt to restrict the freedoms of the people they were meant to represent. Will we ever move past the childish “I don’t like it so no one is allowed to like it” phase of thinking in this country?

    • GroovyPotato

      And these people have sometimes far more real outright extreme practices than the average viewer of porn.
      But I get it, it’s probably orgasmic to have such a control of the libido of your average citizen.

    • Nazzaroth

      funny thing is its only porn/sexuality thats the main iffy point in america. if anyone would want to censor a overly violent game like doom he would be stoned in a matter of seconds, while in other countrys like in europe or japan its just the other way around. violence is bad, but boobies are fine. its really exausting to always deal with stupidity and crazyness in the world T:T

      • Vaelore

        Nipples need to be censored on Japanese console games though.
        As a matter of fact, in Japan a lot of things need to be censored in name of obscenity.
        Japan is probably the number one civilized country with hard censorship laws.

        But yeah, I guess in some ways Japan is better then America when it comes to sexuality.

        • GroovyPotato

          As far as I know, add pixels to vaginas and penises, and somewhat to nipples, and you’re pretty much set in Japan for anything you want to draw or make a game of.
          Of course I’m talking about adult content, which has no comparison anywhere else in the world.
          On non adult content, it’s also way more lax about sexy but not porn content (daring clothes, visible underwear, etc), a thing that is usually avoided in US/UK (less the case in continental Europe), but is OK in Japan.

      • FALprofessional

        Preaching the gospel, bro. Have faith that the world will eventually rise to our level of philosophical, deep-seated appreciation of a good butt and a good boob, while running around with akimbo deagles. ;-P

  • blackice85

    What link is there that viewing pornography causes human trafficking in the first place?

    • Sylveria Shini

      There really isn’t except for countries where human trafficking is already par for the course, some of them use it to produce porn. We’re talking about a fraction of a fraction of the porn on the internet, stuff that 99.9999% of people would never know about let alone ever consume, being used as justification for moral crusaders to block it wholesale.

      The bill’s a joke. Its pure virtue signalling and there’s no way it wouldn’t be immediately smacked down as unconstitutional on like 12 different levels.

  • yobobo

    Looks like our politicians are learning from the U.K. how to effectively block porn: Frame it in such a way that opposing it is political suicide.

    • FALprofessional

      You know it. Making quality use of our tax monies. 😉

  • GroovyPotato

    Conservatives want to block porn.
    SJW like liberals want to block porn.

    Welcome to the puritan year of 2017, where even adult are children for these crazies.

    This authoritarian minded people sicken me.

    • Aknorals

      Um, conservatives are the old anti-porn and overall censorship lunatics. Remember Jack Thomson or any of the 90s for that matter? That isn’t to say conservative democrats like Billary Clinton didn’t also “reach for the middle” with that stance, but the “SJW Illuminati” is a mostly imaginary enemy. Or rather, what few individuals actually think like that are basically using leftie rhetoric to justify conservative stances.

      Mind you, there’s other reasons liberals suck, but that’s not related to the topic of censorship.

      • GroovyPotato

        The sjw insanity we see today in campus is the same that will take positions of political and establishment power in the next years. Even if these individuals don’t think that they are actually pro censorship and racists, factually that’s what they do.

        So no, this isn’t some illuminati bullshit, as they just didn’t have the power or connections to do something like that, yet.

        I just hope that they will be so bad in social relationships that they will not attain these positions.

  • Testy

    Good article. I want to add a second point for why the bill uses a wholesale block instead of limited parent control block; from internet logic, most parents are lazy and do not actually have time to vet what they want their children to consume, and would rather have govt implement an entire block on their behalf instead. Of course this does not invalidate the point from the article, but it could be further support as to why an all or nothing ban is pushed instead of a limited ban.

  • Nazzaroth

    i can only laugh at this, then shake my head, the cry for there is still this much stupidity in the world. not only is it nearly impossible to “block the porn of ze internet”. anyone saying something like that doesnt know how the internet works. there are waaaaay to many ways to accese porn, not just the usual redtube stuff. secondly any programm that would be written (after all it is goverment funded and thus more likely to be lazyly stuffed together) would be broken in a matter of seconds after the first deployment. it would be just the same as prohibition.

    its anoying that someone is even allowed to waste air breathing while spouting this nonsense.

    • FALprofessional

      Nature selection, man. Our genetics shall live long and prosper.

  • The essence of all government in action: protecting you from yourself. Only the fool trusts in government, and only the fool obeys its laws; the wise come to its rejection, celebration of its destruction.

  • FALprofessional

    So this is where all of my income tax goes. Neat! Glad I could help create a bill that is dead on contact.


    Fanatics Guide to Managing Heretics 101
    Actively subdue (preferably by force) others who fails to see ‘God’s will’.
    Create righteous (bogus) laws (that makes no sense), as long as can both either convert or demonize unbelievers.
    Avoid actually banning sinful (porn, tobacoo, alchohol production companies – too wasteful. Instead tax ’em (and their customers) and squeeze them to dust for the greater good of ‘God’.
    If you cannot fight them, terrorize them till they become flocks of docile brainless animals worthy to be sacrificed for the greater good of ‘God’.
    Provoke unbelievers to rebel, to justify raiding and robbing of all businesses with the slightest relation to such rebels. A truely cheaper method then to actually building those companies yourselves.

  • doctorwhocommentator .

    can I just say that even though the author think’s this bill won’t pass the porn industry is actually worried about the new administration