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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE — State Senator Todd Weiler speaks in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are again weighing the impact of pornography, this time considering a measure to allow families exposed to harmful online content to sue for damages.

The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously to move forward with SB185, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.

Weiler's latest anti-pornography measure would establish the exposure by children to online pornography as grounds for legal action against porn hosting sites.

The Davis County lawmaker has sponsored anti-pornography legislation every year since 2013 and received national attention in 2016 for proposing an ultimately successful measure to declare pornography a public health crisis.

This latest bill, he said, will help set guidelines on legal action for minors exposed to pornography, as well as methods for online hosting sites to avoid civil liabilities.

"This bill is not telling any purveyor of pornography that they can not distribute their product in Utah," Weiler said. "We are not telling any consumer that you cannot consume a pornographic product in Utah. What we are saying is that if someone is damaged by your product, that they could take their best shot in court and have to meet every other evidentiary standard that already exists and have to show damages."

Weiler dismissed arguments that the bill would violate the First Amendment right of free speech, describing the measure as a product liability in line with alcohol and tobacco.

Pornography hosting websites would be able to avoid liability by adding a warning disclaimer on their websites and by making a "good faith effort" to age verify site visitors, he said.

Weiler clarified that the bill would not give cause for action against television and internet service providers or search engines, but the specific sites hosting the objectionable content.

The specifics of the age verification are left to the hosting sites for determination, but as long as that language is satisfied, any defendant could show a cause to dismiss legal actions against them, he said.

Krisana Finlay of the Utah-based Sutherland Institute and a former intern with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, spoke in favor of the measure.

“Pornography use produces multiple harms — physical, emotional, mental and social,” Finlay said.

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The social effects are the most damaging, she said, by contributing to the breakdown of families.

"Pornography distorts relationships and sexual behaviors and can contribute to young people engaging in earlier sexual behavior, having multiple sexual partners and participating in risky sexual practices," Finlay said.

Weiler admitted that he has been the butt of a number of jokes for his previous anti-porn measures, but he said he's was working on behalf of a concerned constituent and that he is breaking through a taboo subject.