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South Carolina may require device makers and sellers to block porn out of the box

The state of South Carolina may eventually start generating revenue by blocking residents from accessing pornography. State Representative William “Bill” Chumley (R-Spartanburg) intends to make a change to the state Human Trafficking Prevention Act (HTPA) that requires all new internet-connected devices to automatically block obscene, adult content right out of the box.

The proposed change to the HTPA will require manufacturers or sellers of new computers, smartphones, tablets, and other internet-connected devices to install digital blocking capabilities. If the new devices are sold without the porn-blocker installed, the manufacturer or seller will be required to pay a fine. To prevent a possible fine, the manufacturer or seller can choose to pay a $20 opt-out fee for each device offered without the blocker.

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On the consumer side, buyers who want the porn blocker deactivated on their new device must themselves pay a $20 fee. However, that fee can’t be paid automatically: owners of new devices must verify that they are aged 18 or older, request in writing that the blocker be disabled, and acknowledge that they received a written warning regarding the potential dangers that may arise by disabling the blocker. Then customers can pay the $20 fee.

The digital porn blocking solution provided by manufacturers or sellers will also be required to block access to online hubs and websites that facilitate human trafficking. Means for reporting obscene content that slips through the blocker’s filters must be provided in the porn-blocking solution as well.

Chumley told GoUpstate that human trafficking has recently “exploded” and become a “real problem.” In South Carolina alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 1,330 calls and reported 308 cases since 2007. Atlanta, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, fall within the top 20 cities in the United States for human sex trafficking. These two cities are connected by Interstate 85, which passes through the upper portion of South Carolina.

According to Chumley, this area is a “hotbed” for human trafficking. Even more, local officials believe the current sex trafficking numbers are even higher given that many victims refuse to come forward, or cases simply aren’t reported.

Money generated from the fines and fees will be applied to the human trafficking task force of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. The amendment is backed by state Representative Mike Burns (R-Greenville) who, like Chumley, sees the proposal as a way to block sexually explicit material from the eyes of children, and to help achieve an overall reduction of sex crimes against children.

“If we could have manufacturers install filters that would be shipped to South Carolina, then anything that children have access on for pornography would be blocked,” Chumley said. “We felt like that would be another way to fight human trafficking.”