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Adult websites must verify the age of users in Virginia now

A man surfs an adult website.
Virginia Mayo
A man surfs an adult website.

The governor is taking final actions this week on bills lawmakers sent him during the General Assembly session. One involves online pornography.

When dirty books were available at the corner store, Virginia took action to make sure those products were not sold to children. Now, Senator Bill Stanley, a Republican from Franklin County, says he's glad the governor signed his bill requiring websites to verify the age of users before providing access to adult material.

"We protect our children from that kind of exposure when it comes to bricks and mortar buildings," Stanley says. "We need to do it for the internet. We have to try. Otherwise, this is creating a serious mental health issue for our children worldwide. And we need to stop it and Virginia’s taking the lead."

Virginia is also taking the lead alerting parents when books with explicit themes are on the syllabus. Now, this new legislation that the governor signed has language updating an antiquated part of the code that essentially outlawed depictions of homosexuality. Senator Scott Surovell is a Democrat from Fairfax County.

"The bill deleted depictions of homosexuality out of that definition," Surovell explains. "So, what that means is that the governor's guidance to schools about what types of books children ought to receive notice about has now been narrowed because any depiction of homosexuality would no longer be something that the governor advises schools they should notify parents about."

Virginia's new law gives individuals the right to bring a lawsuit if they feel a website has failed to verify the age of a minor.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.