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ND Republicans Want To Turn Your Phone Into A “Porn Vending Machine”

During the current legislative session which began January 3, North Dakota legislators will consider a bill (HB 1185) that would enforce government censorship of the internet. Absurdly, the bill mandates that, “an internet service provider’s router, or a cell phone, laptop, computer, gaming device, or other product that distributes the internet or makes the content on the internet available is classified as a pornographic vending machine.”

Following on from that, all “pornographic vending machines” must come with obscenity-blocking software that can only be removed by paying the government. Under the current definition of “obscene material” in North Dakota law, any content that could be deemed sexually explicit would be blocked by the government.

Let’s break this down. Anything that connects to the internet – your Kindle, cellphone, Xbox, wifi router – will be a “pornographic vending machine.” There is undeniably a large body of sexually explicit content on the internet, but it is ultimately a minor portion of the content that can be accessed through your internet “vending machines.”

However, the right-wing Big Brother government thinks that you cannot handle the responsibility of deciding whether or not to view “obscene” content, or using parental controls to protect children from being exposed to this content. Under the current definition of “obscene material” in North Dakota law, any content that could be deemed sexually explicit would be subjected to Big Government censorship based on their own religious beliefs.

To protect citizens from the explicit side of free speech and expression, the government will take action to make all of your devices automatically block obscene content. Any person who “manufactures, distributes, or sells a product that makes any content on the internet accessible” must include an obscenity filter that cannot be disabled by the consumer. To access anything that Republicans deem “obscene,” the consumer will be forced to pay a fine of $20 to the State in order to remove the filtering software.

$20 is not a huge sum of money, but it adds up. If you unblock your phone, router, laptop, and Xbox,  you give $80 to a repressive government. The financial burden will fall most heavily on the poor who will have to spend a greater portion of their income to access any content that far-right Republicans don’t like.

For a party that claims to be the real champions of the Bill of Rights, they seem strangely ignorant of the First Amendment. Republicans invoke the First Amendment to allow Christians to mistreat anyone who does not comprehensively subscribe to their values. However, North Dakotans who do not believe

However, North Dakotans who do not believe sexually explicit material is harmful will be punished by the government for accessing what they want on the internet in the privacy of their own home. Let us hope that the North Dakota congresspeople back down before they begin silencing free expression, publicly enforcing religious values, and stripping citizens of their right to privacy.

 

Marisa Manfredo

Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.


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