Louisiana House Bill 172 bars any retailer in Louisiana from selling or leasing any device that provides internet access unless it includes an “active and operating digital blocking” capability that renders obscene material inaccessible. It also bars any retailer outside Louisiana from selling or leasing such a device to anyone in Louisiana.
The retailer or manufacturer of the device “shall prioritize” blocking access to child pornography, “revenge pornography” and “any website known to facilitate prostitution or human trafficking.” The legislation does not define these terms or what is meant by “prioritizing” the blocking of the content. Sale of a device without a filter to an adult is subject to a $500 fine. A sale to a minor is subject to up to six months in jail, a fine of $4,000, or both.
This bill is based on a model bill drafted by the Human Trafficking Prevention Act (HTPA) campaign. The campaign’s goal is to block access to sexual material and other content on the internet by enacting laws in all the 50 states and Congress to force manufacturers, distributors and retailers to install and activate filtering software on any device that allows access to the internet. In 2017, 14 HTPA bills have been introduced in 12 states. Click here to learn more about the campaign.
The bill was referred to House Commerce Committee on 3/28/2017.
>> Filters may only be deactivated if the person who purchased or leased it:
1. Requests in writing that it be deactivated;
2. Presents identification proving the customer is an adult;
3. Acknowledges receiving a written “warning” of the danger of deactivating the filter; and
4. Pays a $20 tax plus any additional “reasonable” fee imposed by the seller.
>> Additional requirements in the legislation for either the manufacturer or retailer:
1. Send out regular updates to consumers to ensure the effectiveness of blocking obscenity.
2. Establish a reporting website or call center so consumers can report obscene material that was not blocked by the filter.
3. Maintain procedures for using reports of over-blocking or under-blocking to update the blocking software in a reasonable amount of time.
There is no specific requirement of reviewing the reports for accuracy. The Attorney General or district attorney may bring a cause of action seeking injunctive relief bar any retailer who is violating the act. They can also recover legal fees and expenses.
A consumer injured by any violation of the bill can bring a suit for damages. Damages can be no less than the cost of the device plus reasonable legal fees and expenses. This provision is not limited to retailers.
The bill was introduced on February 4, 2016 and referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.