- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Legislation offered by Rhode Island lawmakers would require internet service providers to block customers from accessing online pornography until after they’ve paid a one-time fee.

Introduced by Democrats in the state Senate, the bill, “An Act Relating to Public Utilities and Carriers—Internet Digital Blocking,” would force internet providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable to impose a flat $20 “digital access fee” on customers wishing to view “sexual content and patently offensive material.”

Rhode Island state law defines sexual content as depictions and descriptions of any act of sexual intercourse, “normal or perverted, actual or simulated.” The same statute categorizes “patently offensive material” as anything that is “so offensive on its face as to affront current standards of decency.”

Fees collected by internet customers who’ve paid to deactivate the digital block would be relayed to the state and allocated toward the governor’s council on human trafficking, according to the bill.

Additionally the bill would require internet providers to block access to sites that contain child pornography and revenge porn, as well as any sites that facilitate prostitution or human trafficking.

“The purpose of this legislation is to first and foremost protect our children from viewing websites that could have possible detrimental effects to their psyches and developmental process,” said state Senator Frank Ciccone, a Providence Democrat who introduced the bill last week.

“And I want to be clear, the intent of this bill is to require that digital blocks on this kind of material be available to parents if they so choose to use it,” he said in a statement.

The bill was referred to the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee after being offered Thursday by Mr. Ciccone and state Sen. Hannah Gallo, Cranston Democrat.

Net neutrality protections adopted during the Obama administration prohibited internet providers from blocking lawful internet content, but those rules were nixed late last year by the Federal Communications Commission under President Trump. Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is among a host of state attorneys general who have sued the FCC over that repeal, Ars Technica reported Tuesday.

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