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Relating to restricting access to pornographic materials on certain websites and creating civil liability for certain actions that allow children to access pornographic materials.
The fiscal implications of the bill cannot be determined at this time because because the number of organizations who own internet websites that would be held liable under the bill's provisions and the number of persons who upload pornographic materials on websites accessed by individuals younger than 13 years of age is unknown.
HB 2174 would require organizations that own Internet websites to institute a mechanism on their website that prevents users from accessing pornographic material on the site unless they verify that they are 13 years of age or older. If the organization does not do so, they could be held liable for damages. HB 2174 would also permit a person who uploads pornographic material onto a website to be held liable for damages if a person younger than 13 years old accesses the material.
Texas Action opposes HB 2174 as it stands because it would devalue personal responsibility and restrict individual liberty. The bill would create legal penalties for an individual who uploads material that is not otherwise unlawful simply because a younger person accessed it. In practice, a website user could be held liable for someone younger than 13 years old accessing their content by answering falsely to an age verification tool. HB 2174 should be amended to limit liability for a website user who uploads pornographic material if it is shown that the young person accessed it falsely.