Missouri bill proposes mandatory porn blockers on all phones, computers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri House bill is seen as either a way to end human trafficking or an overreach of Big Brother — it just depends on who you ask.

HB 2422, sponsored by Jim Neely (R-Cameron) would force distributors that sell phones and computers to put porn-blocking software on devices to keep kids safe.

The Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Act would also target websites promoting prostitution or human trafficking.

Some people in Kansas City believe this website ban is a violation of both their privacy and First Amendment rights.

"I’m not anti-government but I don’t think the government has any right to limit what I see on my iPhone,” explained Phil Brown. “In China? Yes. I lived in the Soviet Union. That would happen there. It would be a slippery slope in this country.”

But in September, Trible of Restoration House of Greater Kansas City said it would cut down on instances of human trafficking.

Trible said about 5,000 people in the metro, including children, are commercially, sexually exploited each year.

"It’s no longer a situation where you have to go looking for porn or our kids specifically go looking for it. It’s looking for them,” said Trible.

Trible said the average age someone is introduced into the commercial sex industry is 12 or 13.

Other supporters said the bill would make prostitution less easily accessible.

If you are over 18, blocking software can be disabled. You first make a request, pay $20 to the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Fund and sign a waiver with your name that is kept by the distributor.

“That violates the constitution on so many levels,” explained Dave Maass, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that wrote an open-letter that openly opposes similar legislation in about 15 states.

If sellers don’t play by the rules they could get a misdemeanor charge, go to jail or be fined up to $500.

Missouri’s bill also asks for a call center or website for obscene material to be reported.

"It wouldn't change child exploitation. You don’t need porn obviously. We got all kinds of signs on exits around Kansas City. I don’t think child pornography or free internet porn is going to stop child pornography,” explained Ros Ragland of Kansas City.

The measure goes before a House committee and if it passes it will go before the whole House.

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