SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah House committee has narrowly approved a bill that would require new online devices sold in the state to automatically activate protections against accessing adult content.
The measure that passed by a single vote Thursday would require every new mobile phone and tablet sold in Utah after Jan. 1, 2022, to have adult content filters turned on at the time of purchase, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The restriction would not go into effect until five other states passed similar measures.
Two Republicans joined three Democrats voting against the proposal, which passed 6-5 and is now headed to the full Utah House.
"As I put this bill together, I had the opportunity to speak with many good parents," said Republican state Rep. Susan Pulsipher, the bill's sponsor. "They shared with me their desires to help their children stay safe in this world that is increasingly dependent on online activity."
Parents often need to turn to experts for advice on how to block pornography on devices. The bill will not ensure children are safe at all times, but the legislation would be a step in the right direction, Pulsipher said.
Some opponents said the bill could create supply chain problems if manufacturers decline to sell electronics in the state because of the requirement.
Others said the proposal allows parents to abdicate responsibility.
"Utah will be sending out a message to parents saying not to worry how these devices work because the protections are on," said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, an organization advocating for free expressin online.
"That creates a false sense of security where parents will just hand the devices to children and not take the necessary steps to teach them how to use the device and oversee its use," Szabo said.