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After declaring 'public health crisis,' lawmaker wants to pave way for pornography lawsuits

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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, wants to change state law to allow people to sue companies that put pornography on the internet.

"I'm trying to kind of track the same path that was taken against tobacco 70 years ago," Weiler explained. "It's not government coming in and saying what you can and can't watch. It's just basically a message to the pornography industry that if someone in Utah can prove damages from the product, that they may be held liable financially."

The proposal comes about a year after Weiler sponsored a resolution that passed, declaring pornography a public health crisis. He says his new bill would focus mainly on underage children and teens who become addicted to pornography.

"I'm concerned that the average age of first exposure to hardcore sex videos on the Internet is now the age of 11," Weiler said.

A lawyer himself, Weiler admitted he believes the first 30 or so cases would likely not win, but that eventually the lawsuits would gain traction. A second bill Weiler is authoring would help public libraries filter out pornography on their Wi-Fi connections.

"I'm looking at where we can push the envelope as a state of Utah," Weiler said. "To pretend that this is not having any impact on our youth, on children's' minds as they're developing, as their attitudes towards sex and the opposite sex are being formed, I think is foolish."

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah told KSL he's concerned the bill could affect First Amendment rights if passed, but couldn't comment further before being able to read the proposed law.

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