Congressional Bill Proposes Labeling for Adult Websites

A federal spending bill recently submitted to Congress includes an added provision aimed at regulating porn websites, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

Designed to shield children from sexually explicit images, the provision would require special “e-labels” for sites with X-rated content. The proposed legislation also prohibits such images from appearing on sites’ home pages where minors might view them.

Opponents of the plan argue that the ill-defined labels would violate free-speech rights, subjecting lawful providers of adult content to criminal penalties. Leslie Harris, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the Star-Ledger: "It would impose criminal penalties on operators of sites for the lack of labeling on content that is constitutionally protected… If you consider the vastness of the Internet, it potentially makes criminals out of an extraordinarily diverse set of content providers.”

According to Harris, the labeling provision was added to the bill en route to the Senate without the benefit of committee hearings. Congress is expected to review the bill in January.

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