California Bill to Ban Minors From Viewing Pornography to Undergo First Hearing

Many children are exposed to obscene content, which often results in psychological damage, the bill author said.
California Bill to Ban Minors From Viewing Pornography to Undergo First Hearing
A high school student looks at her mobile phone in Western Australia on Feb. 20, 2024. (Susan Mortimer/The Epoch Times)
Micaela Ricaforte
4/10/2024
Updated:
4/10/2024

A California bill that would prevent minors from viewing pornography and obscene material online is being considered by the state Legislature.

Assembly Bill 3080, introduced by Assemblymember Juan Alanis, would require websites that contain obscene sexual content to require age verification to prevent minors from accessing it.

It would also ban such websites from retaining the personal information of its users.

Current state laws do not require age verification for pornography websites, according to a fact sheet on the bill from Mr. Alanis’s office.

As a result, many children are exposed to obscene content, which often results in psychological damage, the assemblymember said.

“California has long been on the forefront of legislation that aims to protect children from abuse and exploitation, yet, not restricting access to pornographic content leaves California minors at risk of psychological damage that could last a lifetime,” Mr. Alanis wrote in the fact sheet.

Common Sense, a nonprofit that advocates for children, conducted a survey in 2022 of 1,300 minors regarding their consumption of pornography. The study found that most gain access to pornography at the age they receive their smartphones.

According to the study, 58 percent of the children surveyed reported accidental exposure to pornography. Among those who intentionally consumed pornography, 71 percent had done so recently.

The study also found that 15 percent of the children surveyed were first exposed to pornography at age 10 or younger.

There are currently 11 other states that have passed similar age verification laws, including Texas, Utah, Indiana, Florida and Tennessee.

The Free Speech Coalition, a nonprofit trade association serving the pornography and adult entertainment industry, recently sued Texas over its age verification law, claiming it violated the First Amendment.

However, in a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling last month, the court found “the age-verification requirement is rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in preventing minors’ access to pornography ... therefore, the age-verification requirement does not violate the First Amendment.”

The California Family Council, a nonprofit public policy advocacy organization, has been vocal in its support of Assembly Bill 3080 and its opposition to access to pornography for minors.

“Just like retail and restaurant establishments are required to make a reasonable effort to verify the age of customers buying alcohol to prevent the negative effects on minors, websites with obscene and indecent material harmful to minors should be required to conduct age verification as well,” said Greg Burt, Vice President of the California Family Council, in an April 8 statement.

The bill will be heard in the Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee April 16.

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.