Sunday, March 12, 2017


H.B. 2266 turns businesses like Verizon, Dell Computers, and Best Buy into the “Obscenity Police”

by Byron Schirmbeck | Big Jolly Politics | March 11, 2017

Are you ready for a communist-style takeover of the Internet in Texas? Are you ready to ask permission from a government-approved panel to view websites they deem inappropriate?

A bill has been filed in the Texas House that is one of the most dangerous threats to free speech, privacy, and free markets in Texas history.

I wish I were making this up.

It sounds so unbelievable — I’m going to include quotes from the actual bill below so you know I’m not exaggerating.

H.B. 2266 was filed by Texas Representative James White (R-Woodville).

The bill claims to crack down on child pornography and human trafficking. But like so many other laws that sound good. . .

. . . it takes what we all want — an end to the ability to profit from human misery — and turns it into an overreaching, unnecessary restriction on law-abiding adults who have done nothing wrong.

You know “common sense” gun control is actually more about controlling lawful gun owners than stopping criminals from having guns. Likewise, H.B. 2266 is more about controlling all online content than protecting children and victims of human trafficking.

According to the text of H.B. 2266:

*** “Certain retailers” would be required “to ensure that certain products sold or leased by the retailers contain a digital blocking capability that renders obscene material inaccessible; creating a criminal offense.”

*** Retailers “may not sell or lease to a consumer a product that makes content accessible on the Internet unless the product contains an active and operating digital blocking capability that renders obscene material inaccessible.”

So the question is, what is considered obscene? And who gets to decide?

The Texas Internet Censorship bill requires retailers and manufacturers of Internet capable devices (cellphones, computers, tablets, etc.) to control the content of what Texans can access online.

It establishes a call center where people can report what they believe to be “obscene” websites. The retailer or manufacturer must decide if the material is obscene and then add the site to their filter. There are criminal and civil penalties for retailers and manufacturers for failure to block what Texans can view online.

H.B. 2266 turns businesses like Verizon, Dell Computers, and Best Buy into the “Obscenity Police.”

And failure to block something “obscene” will result in criminal charges!

How do you think these businesses will evaluate things like an online copy of 50 Shades of Gray or a Victoria’s Secret website? What about an online virtual tour of a museum with classical paintings containing figures with various amounts of skin showing? Or an “R”-rated movie?

Common sense says they’ll block harmless content to avoid being charged criminally.

So how does the bill define “obscene?”

According to H.B. 2266, “obscene” is defined by Section 43.21 of the Penal Code which was passed into law in the 1970’s before the Internet was even invented!

It would include any material that anyone in the community finds offensive, such as a play, a motion picture, a book, a magazine, or any other tangible thing.

Some of this code has been found to be unconstitutionally restrictive.

But that’s not stopping Representative James White from trying to impose subjective “decency” standards on the digital age in Texas.

Shouldn’t it be up to you to decide for yourself what legal websites you should have access to?

Aren’t horrific child pornography websites and human trafficking hubs already illegal? Parental guides and filters already exist so parents can protect their children from material they don’t want them to see.

State Rep. James White’s Texas Internet Censorship bill will destroy free speech, privacy, and free markets. It will also create an undue burden on private businesses who sell electronics, by forcing them to become the Internet police.

Texas Campaign for Liberty has already reached out to Representative James White to explain how dangerous his bill is.

We asked him to pull his bill.

His response? “I am not going to pull a damn thing.”

Byron Schirmbeck is State Coordinator for the Texas Campaign for Liberty

EDITOR’S NOTE: Woodville, population about 2,600, is in deep East Texas. That explains it.

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