Groups Sue to Overturn Utah's Porn-Blocking Law

Groups Sue to Overturn Utah's Porn-Blocking Law

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Richard Piatt ReportingA Federal lawsuit claiming free speech violations was filed today against the state of Utah. The suit takes on a law the legislature passed just this year.

The bill the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, attempts to protect children from Internet pornography. But the group behind the suit says it instead tramples on first amendment rights.

At a peaceful, locally owned bookstore, there is anxiety lurking. The worry is over a new Utah law that may target the owners' web site, under the guise of protecting children from internet pornography.

Betsy Burton, King's English Bookstore Co-Owner: "We have a wealth of children's books and adult books, and the adult books sometimes do have sexual content."

The new Utah law requires internet service providers to evaluate and rate web sites; requires the Attorney General to create a list of sites 'harmful to minors'; and makes it a crime to violate either.

A challenge to the law comes in the form of a Federal lawsuit. It claims the law is too broad, and could end up censoring legal web sites. In addition, one attorney says the assumes a 'parenting' role.

John Morris, Center for Democracy and Technology: "It really does deprive parents of the ability to decide how to protect their kids best. And a number of studies show that's the best focus for the protection of kids."

The Attorney General is now charged with defending the law. The Legislator who sponsored it still believes in it too.

Rep. John Dougall, (R) American Fork: "We're leading out in the nation in this area trying to protect kids from harmful pornography and things like that, this is just part of the normal course of business."

The lawsuit is supported by the ACLU and a group of artists and business owners. All worry their defense of free speech could be interpreted as something else.

Betsy Burton, King's English Bookstore Co-Owner: "I also resent being forced into a position where it looks like I'm for porn, because I'm not at all. I'm just a small bookstore."

The Attorney General's office late today admitted the new law does have constitutional concerns, but as of right now, it's still on the books.

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