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Utah enacts net porn law

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Utah's governor has defied criticism from technology firms and free speech activists to sign into law a bill designed to protect children from Internet pornography.

The controversial bill (PDF)will require ISPs to block access to websites deemed "harmful to minors" on request. This blacklist will be drawn up by the state's Attorney General.

ISPs in Utah have the option of blocking sites or providing customers with third=party filtering products unless they want to risk felony charges under the new law. The law states that: "Upon request by a consumer, a service provider may not transmit material from a content provider site listed on the adult content registry." Internet content providers that create or host data in Utah must properly rate the data or risk possible criminal charges.

Local ISPs say the law is unnecessary. "The market has already provided a solution to this problem," said XMission President Pete Ashdown. NetCoalition, a lobbying group, says the measure will oblige search engines to display the rating of sites to Utah residents and is technically unworkable.

Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union go further and warn the bill violates the US Constitution's First Amendment on free speech and the Commerce Clause. Six other states have had similar legislation ruled unconstitutional, resulting in huge legal bills for residents, Media Coalition director David Horowitz told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

The bill was drafted in an attempt to skirt constitutional concerns. Time will tell if the measures withstand legal srutiny. ®

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