Within K-12 entities providers are to prevent access to pornographic material and in the commercial sector age verification is required.
During the 2023 session, HB 1315 was passed to further regulate media exposure of pornographic material in K-12 schools in Mississippi. The goal was to more strictly regulate the resources that are provided by outside vendors.
The legislation has been signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves (R) this week.
“With the rise of technology and social media, it has never been easier for children to access pornographic materials,” said Governor Reeves. “That can have really disastrous effects on children’s long-term mental health and development. I can only imagine how tough it is to be a child in today’s society. It seems like everywhere you turn, social media and the entertainment industry are pushing hyper-sexualized content on the youngest members of our society. We’re going to push back on that in Mississippi. That’s why I signed this legislation that will make our kids safer.”
Some statistics say that a child is first introduced to pornography at the age of 12.
The bill was authored by State Representatives Lee Yancey (R) and Dan Eubanks (R). The law holds a vendor providing online resources or databases to a school responsible if children are able to access the material.
RELATED: Mississippi House adopts conference report regulating minors access to online pornographic material
Material considered pornographic includes child porn, any material depicting exploitation or trafficking, obscene material, or that of a sexual orientation. This would not include material with a core literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
While the issues addressed are already in federal law, the Mississippi Legislature was attempting to make state law consistent.
The law outlines that vendors must put policies in place to prevent any circulation of pornographic material. According to the legislation, if a vendor fails to comply with the requirements, payments can be withheld. After the third report, the vendor’s contract is terminated, and the school would be entitled to a full refund. Protections to vendors who provide a service that did not constitute direct provisions of digital or online databases were added to the bill.
For commercial entities, SB 2346 would require them to provide an age verification procedure before anyone could access pornographic material.
The bill points to several reasons why lawmakers found that limiting access to this content for minors was beneficial. The findings include the hyper-sexualization of teens, increased problematic sexual activity at younger ages, difficulty forming intimate relationships, and a negative impact on brain development.
These bills will go into effect July 1, 2023.