SALT LAKE CITY — A committee of Utah lawmakers has approved a bill that would require online and printed pornography to carry warning labels and subject companies that don’t comply to possible fines of $2,500.
Republican state Rep. Brady Brammer proposed the idea of labeling print and digital pornographic material in the state with warnings on the potential harm for minors.
The bill passed a key hurdle Tuesday when the House Judiciary Committee voted 9-2 in favor of the legislation with opposing votes from Democratic state Reps. Brian King and Mark Wheatley. The bill next heads to the House floor for debate.
The proposed warning label would state that “exposing minors to pornography is known to the state of Utah to cause negative impacts to brain development, emotional development and the ability to maintain intimate relationships. Such exposure may lead to harmful and addictive sexual behavior, low self-esteem, and the improper objectification of and sexual violence towards others, among numerous other harms.”
If the label does not appear on print publication or is not displayed for 15 seconds before digital material, producers could be sued for $2,500 for each violation, either by the Utah Attorney General’s Office or private groups, according to the bill.
One pornography website mocked the bill by putting out a label on its content saying “porn may lead to decreased stress, increased happiness, and lower rates of teen pregnancy,” the Tribune reported.
The bill’s enforcement process would be similar to California’s required warning labels about toxic substances, Brammer said last week.
Bill opponents have said the bill’s language is vague and could have unintended consequences for other content. Publications not considered pornographic by most people but deemed so by others could be sued, said Marina Lowe, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.
Brammer crafted the language of the warning label from a resolution passed by the state in 2016 declaring pornography a public-health crisis, citing its widespread availability online, he said.