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Protect kids or avoid censorship — ID verification debate warms in US

Protect kids or avoid censorship — ID verification debate warms in US

Moralizing aside, stated concerns in the United States about the innocence of childhood are going to be good business for digital ID verifiers and lawyers.

As of January 1, the state of Louisiana requires anyone wishing to view legislation-defined online porn to prove they are adults by using a government ID. And as of the same date, Louisianans’ interest in their state’s digital ID has exploded.

Meanwhile, a diverse group of businesses made up of technology companies (Meta, Google, PayPal, Twitter) and companies heavily dependent on technology (including travel firms) is suing to block a law designed to protect children and their privacy.

On one side are arguments about the primacy of childhood and on the other are arguments about the sanctity of the First Amendment.

The Louisiana law targets businesses, but not nonprofits, that publish sites comprised of 33.3 percent “material harmful to minors” without “reasonable age verification,” according to reporting by technology news and culture publication Vice.

The legislation’s list of images and activities considered harmful might get a knowing chuckle out of the ghost of infamous/famous U.S. pornographer Larry Flynt.

Knowing chuckles could be common around the state, too.

StateScoop, which reports on the use of technology in state governments, took note of Louisiana this week as well.

Daily downloads of LA Wallet grew almost fivefold from December 31 and January 3, rising from 1,200 to more than 5,000, according to StateScoop.

About 1.5 million residents of the state were using the state’s mobile driver’s license prior to January 1, when the ID requirement to view pornography went live.

A representative of the governor reportedly told the publication that residents viewing content considered harmful to children will not be subjected to tracking or recording.

This is not a one-way trend.

NetChoice is suing to eliminate California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code Act before it can go into effect next year, according to The Washington Post. When live, the act will mandate that companies trafficking in services and products that are likely to be viewed by minors (those under 18 years old) have more privacy protection.

(The law is complex. Legal industry publisher Lexology has analyzed it here.)

The members of NetChoice say editorial decisions will be unconstitutionally imposed on them and they will be required to be censors. The organization already is involved with not-dissimilar court fights with the states of Florida and Texas, according to the Post.

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