New Jersey Assembly Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 2928

Summary

New Jersey AB 4503 and SB 2928 makes it a violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud act to manufacture, or distribute any product that makes content on the internet accessible unless it contains digital blocking capability that that blocks any obscene material, defined as obscenity or harmful to minors, inaccessible. New Jersey’s harmful to minors’ law is unconstitutional.

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.

Status

AB 4503 was referred to the Judiciary Committee on January 19, 2017 while SB 2928 referred to the Senate Commerce Committee on January 30, 2017.

Analysis

New Jersey’s harmful to minors law is unconstitutional. Any unlawful practice is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense and $20,000 for any subsequent offense.  Additionally, a violation can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, punitive damages, and treble damages and costs to the injured.

>> A person who manufactures, sells, offers for sale, leases, or distributes a product that makes content accessible on the Internet shall:
1.   make reasonable and ongoing efforts to ensure that the digital content blocking capability functions properly;
2.   establish a reporting mechanism, such as a website or call center, to allow a consumer to report unblocked obscene material or report blocked            material that is not obscene;
3.   ensure that “revenge pornography” and sites that “facilitate prostitution” and “ sex trafficking” are inaccessible on the product;

>> Any digital blocking capability may be deactivated after a consumer:
1.   requests in writing that the capability be disabled;
2.   presents identification to verify that the consumer is 18 years of age or older;
3.   acknowledges receiving a written warning regarding the potential danger of deactivating the digital blocking capability; and
4.   pays a one-time $20 digital access fee.  Alternatively, a business can pay a $20 “opt-out” fee for each device.

The bill requires that a reporting call center be set up for reporting material that should be blocked but was not, and material that was blocked but should not have been.

Failing to act on complaints is also subject to civil suit.

History

AB 4503 was introduced referred to the Judiciary Committee on January 19, 2017, 1/19/2017 while SB 2928 was introduced referred to the Senate Commerce Committee on January 30, 2017.