88th LegislatureIssuesState HouseTexas Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Require Age Verification for “Sexual Material” Online

Websites for which more than one third of its content is "sexual material harmful to minors" would require an verifiable age identification.
March 15, 2023
A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill to prevent minors from accessing pornagraphic material online by requiring an age verification system for social media.

State Rep. Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth) filed House Bill (HB) 3570, which requires social media platforms and websites to perform an age verification process to access the site if more than one-third of its content is “sexual material harmful to minors.”

“Sexual material harmful to minors” includes acts “designed to appeal to or pander to the prurient interest” or depictions of certain body parts and sexual acts.

The age verification process would be performed either by the site itself or through a third-party system. The bill requires that no information used in the identification process be retained.

A website that is found to be publishing such material without access measures or retaining information of the user during the verification process will be liable to the parent of the minor for damages resulting from access to the material.

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“I was proud to file HB 3570 with 19 reps signing on day 1!” said Schatzline on social media.

“The porn industry has preyed on the most vulnerable, our children. Requiring age verification for explicit content should be a no-brainer. Texas has no place for people who intend to harm kids.” said Schatzline.

Texas is not the only state to attempt to require age verification online to curtail minors viewing pornography. Louisiana passed similar legislation last year, and its laws will be an indicator of the impact Schatzline’s bill will have in Texas.

Similar to Schatzline’s bill, Louisiana requires age verification using government-issued identification or public or private transaction data. If an individual in Louisiana attempts to access a website that is at least one-third sexual material, they are directed to confirm their identity through an app called LA Wallet, developed by the state government, that digitizes their driver’s license. Texas has a similar program launched last year called Texas by Texas (TxT) that creates a single digital identity (SDI) for access to services and agencies.

TxT promotes itself as “government just the way you want it – powerful, personalized, and in your pocket.” It allows for the tracking of upcoming deadlines, sending push notifications, and completing online transactions relating to state identification.

“TxT is the culmination of a multi-year effort aimed at bringing the way Texans consume government services in line with the streamlined, one-stop-shop experience they have come to expect in other aspects of their lives,” said Amanda Crawford, Texas Department of Information Resources Chief Director Texas Chief Information Officer, in a statement.

An SDI could be used for online identification for access to websites or renewing a driver’s license, but that is only one part of the larger framework for the TxT platform. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) was used as the pilot program for instituting these services.

“At TDLR, one of our core values is to lead through innovation. So, we were proud to serve as the pilot agency for this transformative initiative,“ said David Gonzales, TDLR deputy executive director. “TxT enables us to provide innovative regulatory solutions for our massage therapist and massage instructor licensees and we anticipate adding more professional licensing services to this platform.”

Other countries’ policies like the United Kingdom’s Online Safety Bill also prevents children from accessing potential harmful material online through identity verification by a third party vendor, and Australia’s Online Safety (Restricted Access Systems) Declaration requires age verification by giving Google access to government identification for viewing certain material.

The centralization and verification of identity for accessing information online will serve the State of Texas in monitoring children’s access to online obscene material, but how Texans’ private data would be protected could become an important consideration moving forward.


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Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.