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In the last month, the coronavirus pandemic and its effects have swept through American society. But while the virus’ impacts on public health and the economy have rightly garnered the most attention, many of its other consequences have been overlooked, including in one especially troubling area: the explosion of pornography use, particularly among children.

 

Recently, Terry Schilling, executive director of American Principles Project, detailed in The Federalist how pornography distributors have been exploiting the coronavirus crisis and resulting social isolation for their own ends:

 

Last week, for example, one of the web’s most popular porn sites, Pornhub, moved to make all its premium content free for users in Italy, which had just gone under lockdown. This week, it extended the offer to France and Spain.

 

Here in the United States, although porn sets may soon be shutting down out of infection concerns, online sex performers are reporting booming business. Perhaps most disturbingly, Vice News reported earlier this month on a surge of coronavirus-themed porn on sites such as Pornhub and xHamster, proving a well-known internet maxim that there is nothing — absolutely nothing — pornographers won’t sexualize if it might make them a profit.

 

Of course, all this content is also readily available to any child with internet access, and research has shown that more children are being exposed to pornography at younger ages than ever before. For this reason, Schilling argued in The American Conservative on Friday that it’s time for Congress to act and suggested two possible ways (a “carrot” and a “stick” approach) for doing so:

 

The “carrot” would be making Section 230 immunity for porn sites conditional on the implementation of age verification… Some of the most trafficked porn sites in the world rely almost exclusively on user-submitted videos, and are thus currently immune from civil liability for the content posted on their platforms. Losing this immunity would destroy their business model, and thus conditioning the immunity on age verification would be a powerful incentive.

 

On the other hand, a “stick” approach to protecting children would be to strengthen the current law mentioned above. Congress could do this by formally identifying online pornography as obscenity, imposing specific fines or other criminal penalties on porn sites that continue to knowingly transmit obscene content to children, and directing DOJ to form a task force that would actively pursue charges against porn sites that continue to violate the law.

 

You can read Terry Schilling’s entire op-ed for The Federalist here.

 

And you can read his full piece at The American Conservative here.

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Author: Press Release