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House Approves Bill to Protect Children from Obscenity

A bill (H.R. 4147) that would expand a law barring the transmission of obscene materials to minors was approved, 197-2, by the House on October 2.

Currently, the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act (P.L. 105-314) prohibits the use of the Internet or mail delivery to transmit obscene materials to minors aged 16 and younger. The penalty for violation is a mandatory prison sentence of 10 years.

Under H.R. 4147, sponsored by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), the age for minors under the law would be raised from 16 to 18 years of age.

Rep. Tancredo said his bill “builds upon the efforts of this body to regulate and stem the flood of obscene material throughout this country.” He added: “If this body is going to act on behalf of our children and concerned parents in limiting exposure to obscene materials, then we should act accordingly and across-the-board for all juveniles.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) voiced concern that the bill defines an adult perpetrator as an individual aged 18 or older who transmits obscene materials to a minor. “In keeping with the spirit of this change in the law, I would hope that the definition of adult would also be amended,” she said, adding: “I believe that it would be judicially unproductive should an 18-year-old be found in violation of this law by providing inappropriate material to another 18-year-old and made to endure the full penalty that this bill provides for.”

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