The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) recently shared the experience of Utah resident Darby Bailey who discovered her five-year-old nephew had landed on Pornhub's website accidentally, completely on his own. Tucking him into bed, she noticed an iPad he was using was still on. She was shocked to find that, although her nephew could barely read, Pornhub's website was on the screen.
As a result of action by the Utah state legislature in April 2020, Bailey's nephew was only presented with an intimating warning label in orange and black rather than the website's harmful contents. This online label requires individuals in the state of Utah to confirm that they are at least 18 years old and agree that pornography will not be shared with anyone under the age of 18 prior to entering a site presenting pornography.
While this label can be bypassed with a simple check in a box, Bailey's nephew was prevented from entering the site. She took to Twitter to thank the organizations and legislators that made the label law possible.
Utah has paved the way in protecting children from harmful material. In 2016, it was the first state to adopt a resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis. Since then, this motivated more than 16 states to adopt similar legislation.
Pornography distributors that ignore the new Warning Labels Amendment can be fined $2,500 per violation. The Amendment also allows the Attorney General or any Utah citizen to sue anyone distributing pornography, including online distributors, for not including a warning about how the material can negatively impact and damage minors.
While the initiative to post a warning prior to entering a site may seem simple, it provides a solution that allows those browsing the web to pause and reflect on the fact that some doors should not be opened. According to NCOSE, the initiative also "introduces the idea that producers should be accountable for the harm that they cause."