HB 265 had its first hearing in the House today. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Smith (R), HB 265 would require companies that distribute sexually explicit material online to obtain age verification before allowing access to the material. This would take the form of some sort of ID verification or other more effective method than simply checking a box to say ‘Yes, I am over 18.’
The discussion from the sponsor and supporters was about protecting minors against exposure to sexually explicit material. Even if the wording was imperfect, you would expect everyone to easily get on board with such an idea, protection of minors. But the criticism and so-called concern were strong, with groups like the ACLU literally asking for legislators to vote NO.
Rep. William Bush (D) expressed his agreement with the premise of the bill alongside some potential concerns for privacy invasion. The privacy concern was in presenting government ID to a website. It was clarified in the hearing that the program that would be used is the same one that is currently in use to scan IDs in a bar or even other businesses. There are already protections in place for the technology, this simply puts it in place in another way that protects minors from harmful material.
Rep. Smith agreed to work towards any needed clarification within the bill but doubled down on the need to protect children from pornographic material that can be so easily obtained online.
The bill was then voted on. All members present voted yes, except for Rep. Krista Griffith (D), Rep. Larry Lambert (D), and Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton (D).
I’m currently sitting in the House waiting for the Floor Session to start. HS 1 for HB 162, a bill to allow human composting in DE is being heard today. Stay tuned for an update on that and more later!