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DES MOINES, Iowa – An Iowa House subcommittee on Tuesday tabled a bill, HF 2239, that opened online distributors of pornography to civil action if they knowingly allow access to minors. 

Iowa law already prohibits a minor’s access to pornography. 

State Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, who sponsored the bill, said it is designed to provide an incentive to bring lawsuits against pornography distributors who allow minors to access their internet site or internet-based application. 

“With the advent of the internet, pornography access by minors is virtually unhindered – it occurs anywhere anytime. Porn fuels sexual crime to include sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. It damages children and kills marriages and families. It actually has been shown to change the physical functioning of the brain, causing addiction. Pornography has created a public physical, mental, moral, and spiritual health crisis,” she told Caffeinated Thoughts.

The bill opens pornography distributors up to civil damages of $500 for each instance a minor accesses their site or app, and court costs should civil action taken against them prevail.

HF 2239 also encourages online pornography distributors to require personal identifying information, like a credit card, to verify a user’s age before they access the website or app.

Distributors who utilize age verification can offer that as a defense in a lawsuit. The legislation states that a minor accessing a website or app at a public library or school is not a defense. 

State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, who chaired the subcommittee, says he supports the premise of the bill but isn’t yet sure how to enforce it.

“I think addressing the issue of keeping minors from accessing pornography is a critical one. I agree with all of the presenters in favor of the bill that spoke about the horrific and life-long effects of pornography. From a legislative standpoint, the biggest challenge will be enforcement and implementation. I am attempting to make the nuts and bolts of the bill happen while completely supporting the concept,” he told Caffeinated Thoughts.

Kaufmann said he plans to work on a bill that addresses these challenges during the next legislative session.

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