House Bill 1257 would require age verification by websites containing material harmful to minors.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes this bill. While intended to protect minors, House Bill 1257 undermines the privacy and First Amendment rights of South Dakotans. The bill could have a chilling effect on free expression online.

If passed, House Bill 1257 would require websites containing material "harmful to minors" to create and implement an age verification process to determine that an individual is 18 year old or older. Age verification requires adults to digitally provide a driver’s license or other personal identification in order to view constitutionally protected content.  The verification can be done using a state issued ID, military ID, bank account information, or credit or debit information. The bill also establishes a civil penalty of $5,000 for each separate instance that a platform fails to perform age verification, as well as requires the content platform to pay court costs, attorney fees, and damages. It would also allow the attorney general to investigate alleged violation to bring civil suits on behalf of the state. 

In states where similar legislation has passed, companies have chosen to completely revoke access to their websites. The legitimate fear of having personal information exposed may deter people from accessing legal and consensual adult content, limiting their freedom to explore and express themselves in a private digital space. Instead of passing yet another bill that infringes on our First Amendment rights, the state should focus on boosting parents’ access to and information about filtering software.

We can keep minors safe and preserve the rights of adults at the same time.


Representatives Soye (prime), Auch, Aylward, Blare, Deutsch, Jensen (Phil), Lems, May, Mills, Mulder, Perry, and Sjaarda and Senator Hoffman





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