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Internet safety bill advanced by House committee

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19 2013 5:30 p.m. MST

The new Apple Maps application is demonstrated in New York on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Apple released an update to its iPhone and iPad operating system on Wednesday that replaces Google Maps with Apple's own application. Early upgraders are reporting that the new maps are less detailed, look weird and misplace landmarks. It's shaping up to be a rare setback for Apple. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof)

Karly Domb Sadof, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY — As educational technology evolves, policy to protect children needs to evolve with it.

That was the case made by Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, as he presented a bill Tuesday to the House Education Committee that would require software to filter objectionable material on any school-issued device.

HB206 would revise state law to include content filters on handheld and portable electronic devices with Internet capability, such as tablets and smartphones, as those technologies are increasingly used by schools as an educational tool.

The bill received some discussion on the costs and efficacy of implementing such filtering software. Hutchings said many schools already employ filtering software and procedures for electronic devices, and the bill would mostly serve to modernize state statute.

He compared Internet safety policies to the restrictions against juveniles purchasing alcoholic beverages. Some students will likely succeed at circumventing the filters, but it is still important to have protections in place, Hutchings said.

"I think that we would be accessories to travesty if we provided the device and didn't provide a means to block objectionable content," he said. "This is going to be an issue that we're going to deal with for many years to come, and it's going to get worse and it's going to get more personal."

The bill was advanced to the full House after receiving a single vote in opposition from the committee.

Benjamin Wood

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