Arizona Lawmaker Wants to Tax Internet Porn to Pay for Border Wall

Existing border fence on the U.S.-Mexico border near Nogales, Arizona
Photo: Getty

Arizona state Senator Gail Griffin, a Republican, has introduced a new bill that would force computer and phone retailers to install porn-blocking software, which could only be removed for a fee of at least $20. The weirdest part? The money that was collected by the state would be used to help build President Donald Trump’s infamous wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, among other things.

First reported by the Arizona Mirror, the bill would require retailers to install porn-filter software on all new internet-capable devices sold in Arizona. The filter would only be removed if the customer asked for it, they could prove that they were at least 18 years old, and paid at least $20. The $20 fee would be sent to the state, but retailers would be allowed to charge more on top of that.

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The bill would also set up something called the John McCain Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Fund, which is where all those $20 fees would be sent. The fund would then issue grants for programs that help the victims of sex offenses, which sounds reasonable enough until you look at the list in the bill. The first thing on the list, which will allegedly “help” victims of sex offenses, is a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Grants that the fund will provide according to the bill, HB 2444, would help:

  1. Build a border wall between Mexico and this state or fund border security.
  2. Provide physical and mental health services.
  3. Provide temporary and permanent housing placements.
  4. Assist victims in employment placement, education and employment training.
  5. Prevent and protect victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, prostitution, divorce, child abuse and sexual assault.
  6. Assist school districts.
  7. Compensate crime victims.
  8. Fund shelters and dream centers.
  9. Pay for family counseling and rehabilitation.
  10. Assist law enforcement.

The bill also says that the software should block all access to any website that facilitates prostitution and revenge porn. And retailers are required to set up a way for Arizona residents to report any “obscene material” that makes it through the filter. If the company doesn’t block the offending website “within a reasonable amount of time after receiving a report” then the retailer faces a fine of $500 per website, plus attorney’s fees.

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The bill also helpfully define “pornography” in bizarre detail, including the kind of nudity that’s not permitted. That includes any “female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola” as well as “male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, whether covered or uncovered.” No sweatpants boners allowed, fellas.

So far the bill has only been introduced, and it’s unclear how much of a chance it has to pass through the state legislature. But the Republicans hold majorities in both the state House and the state Senate in Arizona. And the governor, Doug Ducey, is also a Republican. So who knows?

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Senator Griffin has a long history of introducing socially conservative legislation in Arizona, including a bill in 2018 to allow teachers to put up the phrase “God enriches” in Arizona public schools, a translation of the state’s Latin motto, “Ditat Deus.” She also introduced a bill backed by the NRA in 1999 that protected gun manufacturers from being sued.

State senator Griffin did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but we’ll update this article if we hear back.

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[Arizona Mirror]

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About the author

Matt Novak

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog