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On Saturday, news broke of a proposed bill in South Carolina that would require manufacturers to install porn blocking software on all computers sold in the state. The legislation also mandates that those same manufacturers crack down on websites that facilitate prostitution.

The bill is sponsored by State Representative Bill Chumley, a Republican from Spartanburg, who wants to combat online pornography and human trafficking. He says the legislation will help protect children from exposure to sexually explicit and obscene materials.

The proposed legislation would fine a manufacturer $20 per machine if it does not comply with the legislation. The filter that it requires to be installed could only be deactivated by the computer maker. “If an end user buys an apparatus, a computer, and they want access to that, they would have to pay to have that filter removed,” Chumley told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.


If you want to have the blocking software removed, you would have to prove to the computer manufacturer that you are of legal age to view pornography and pay $20. The money collected by the fines and fees would go to the South Carolina attorney general’s human trafficking task force.

There is no justification for such a draconian measure. It is not the job of the state government to protect adults from themselves.

RELATED: Utah governor hopes to tackle the “public-health issue” of porn by proposing what hasn’t been done in more than a decade

If parents want to shield their children from sexually obscene materials, there are private-sector options, such as parental control software, of which there are even free versions available. Parents have take responsibility for themselves and their children’s online habits — that isn’t the responsibility of politicians in Columbia.

The bill also raises more questions than it answers. Will smartphone and tablet manufacturers have to comply with the legislation? After all, both types of device can access the Internet. Why do people have to pay the state $20 to have the filters removed instead of being able to customize or disable them themselves?

Chumley says that the legislation can be amended as it works its way through the legislative process. A better solution would be to simply kill the bill.

RELATED: Former Playboy model Pamela Anderson wants you to stop watching porn and here’s why

South Carolina is not the only state that is seeking to combat online porn. Last year, Utah declared porn a “health hazard,” even though there is little evidence to back up that claim.

The underlying question behind this and other bills to combat online porn is this: who is qualified to make decisions about what we see online? Should parents make those choices for their families, or should politicians?

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