Proposed Law Could Mean No More Free Porn In Rhode Island : The Two-Way State legislators introduced a bill last week that would require residents to pay a one-time $20 fee to access sexually explicit sites or other "offensive material" online.
NPR logo Proposed Law Could Mean No More Free Porn In Rhode Island

Proposed Law Could Mean No More Free Porn In Rhode Island

Rhode Island legislators introduced a bill last week that would require residents to pay a one-time $20 fee to access pornography sites or other "offensive material" online. GrapeImages/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
GrapeImages/Getty Images

Rhode Island legislators introduced a bill last week that would require residents to pay a one-time $20 fee to access pornography sites or other "offensive material" online.

GrapeImages/Getty Images

Rhode Island enthusiasts of free porn may have to start paying for it.

State legislators introduced a bill last week that would require residents to pay a one-time $20 fee to access pornography sites or other "offensive material" online.

If passed, the law would require Internet service providers in the state to block "sexual content and patently offensive material" by default. Users looking to take a peek at censored content would be able to make a written request to lift the ban. That would require proof that the consumer is at least 18 years old, evidence that the consumer received a "written warning regarding the potential danger of deactivating the digital block," and an Andrew Jackson, or equivalent legal tender.

The bill, called "An Act Relating to Public Utilities and Carriers — Internet Digital Blocking," was drafted by Sens. Frank Ciccone and Hanna Gallo, both Democrats. They say it is intended to keep children and minors safe from from accessing inappropriate content. It also seeks to rid the Internet of all child pornography, revenge pornography and human trafficking websites.

Collected fees would help fund the operations of the state's council on human trafficking.

The state's attorney general could also potentially go after ISPs that fail to filter content under the new regulations, seeking damages of up to $500 for each piece of content that is reported but not subsequently blocked.

New York Magazine reports:

"Ciccone and Gallo's law is pretty broad in defining the term 'sexual content,' deeming it anything that runs afoul of Rhode Island state statute that deems sexual content as anything that shows the 'act of sexual intercourse, normal or perverted, actual or simulated' as well as masturbation. Ciccone and Gallo's law would also require ISPs to block access to 'patently offensive material,' which is termed as anything 'so offensive on its face as to affront current standards of decency.' "

The magazine also noted that there are 10 ISPs operating in Rhode Island and it's unclear whether each would have to set its own standards as to what it blocks and doesn't block.

According to the Providence Journal, the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.