By BROCK VERGAKIS
SALT LAKE CITY --In an effort to keep teenagers with laptop computers
from driving around neighborhoods in search of a wireless Internet
connection to look at pornography, state lawmakers are considering a
proposal that would force homeowners to limit access to their wireless
networks with a password.
The proposed legislation comes from Cheryl Preston, an Internet law
professor at the Mormon church's Brigham Young University. She's
developed several proposals designed to keep children from seeing
pornography on the Web.
Legislators began considering them Wednesday.
"If you choose to have wireless, and allow anyone within a geographic
area (to access it), then you ought to be responsible for that and you
need to take reasonable efforts to prevent access by minors to your
service," Preston said.
Under Preston's proposal, anyone who unintentionally failed to block
access to their network would be fined. Intentionally leaving a
wireless network open to minors would be considered the same as
The proposal also says that anyone who wants to leave a wireless
network open could do so if they used a filtering program that blocks
Preston has another proposal under which Utah's Internet service
providers could be rewarded for filtering out pornography before it
ever reaches homes, businesses, schools or telephones in this state.
Under the proposal, Utah-based Internet service providers would be
designated as "community conscious" by state government if they
require that its Internet users don't publish obscene material, take
down obscene material and comply with court orders to remove any
prohibited content. She said tax incentives could also be offered to
companies that participate in the program.
"If you're a Utah provider we'll give you a designation that you can
use in your advertising that you're an ISP that's chosen to (be)
helpful in eliminating pornography. If you choose not to do that,
great. But the citizens in Utah will be made aware," she said.
Preston also proposed requiring Internet service providers to keep
records of who controls each Web outlet's unique IP address for two
years and an educational program for students, parents and local
governments about the impact of early exposure to pornography.
Legislators in the Public Utilities and Technology Committee were
receptive to Preston's ideas.
"You can see there's problems here, and we've got to try to solve
them," said Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City.
However, Jenkins, co-chairman of the committee, wants a closer look at
the proposals. Preston's proposals will be studied throughout the
If Jenkins' committee gives a favorable recommendation to the proposal
it would be considered by the full House or Senate in January. Bills
studied during the summer typically have a greater chance of passing
than those that don't.
Copyright 2007 Reuters, Inc.
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