There is a real problem that must be addressed as the adult entertainment sector gets ready for the new year. Literally, an elephant, or the Republican Party’s logo as they take over the House of Representatives in the United States. In November, Michael McGrady, a friend of Adult Business Consulting and a contributing writer for YNOT.com who follows the business and politics of porn, wrote about what the adult industry should anticipate from the new Congress.
He observes that “there is a veritable concern among adult industry professionals and firms with the prospects of regulation in the next session of Congress.” The staff at Adult Business Consulting must be aware of the macro- and micro-level effects that politics, culture, and economics have on the adult entertainment industry and its segments because our company is fundamentally a consulting company. The Republican-controlled House has been the subject of a separate blog article since it contributes to the country’s divided government, which makes the United States the world’s largest market for adult content. Accordingly, any changes to American law that influence the adult entertainment industry could have a direct or indirect effect on websites that are located abroad, including those owned by corporations with headquarters in Canada, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, or (in our case) Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations and beyond.
Companies that operate outside of the United States often react to market and legislative trends that start in Yankeeland for a variety of industries. The greatest economy in the world, as measured by national gross domestic product, is the United States of America. The fourth-largest economy in the United States is in California, the state with the highest concentration of pornographic production firms worldwide.
Considering all of these elements, laws and regulations adopted by the federal, state, and local governments throughout the U.S. will inevitably have an effect on the international business landscape for websites with an international audience, including a distributed workforce in various nations and a user base that originates from significant Tier I jurisdictions like the European Union.
Since the 2020 election and the transfer of authority from former President Donald Trump to the current officeholder, President Joe Biden, GOP initiatives have become more unsettling for stakeholders both domestically and internationally. Even though the House is under Democratic leadership, the Republican caucus has filed several discriminatory and anti-LGBTQ bills that censor various forms of free expression, including instances of consensual sexual behavior online. We’ve discussed initiatives like the EARN IT Act and legislative initiatives to modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 in past blog postings. As a refresher, Section 230 is sometimes referred to as the “First Amendment of the internet,” given its legal framework that does provide interactive computer services like porn sites with a “safe harbor” from responsibility for the conduct of third-party users. This safe-harbor architecture gives online platforms the authority to self-regulate and ban users who post hate speech or unlawful content, break the platform’s terms of service, or otherwise engage in prohibited behavior.
Under a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the EARN IT Act will be reintroduced with bipartisan support. The EARN IT Act aims to protect users’ privacy rights by requesting that private technology companies give law enforcement organizations like the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation unrestricted access to personal data in order to stop the spread and creation of exploitative and illegal content (including CSAM/CSEM). While the bill has previously been killed by its sponsors due to right-wing and left-wing opposition, the rise in phony right-wing moral panics surrounding the alleged “grooming and child exploitation epidemics,” which are allegedly instigated by ‘woke’ left-wing elites (like Mr. McGrady), may present an opportunity for the classes of extremist and far-right lawmakers like white nationalist Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia or religious bigot Sen. Josh Hawley.
A second proposal, the Internet Obscenity Definition Act (IODA), will be reintroduced. The IODA, a proposal from Senator Mike Lee of Utah, was another topic on which Mr. McGrady wrote for YNOT in December 2022. The measure is nothing more than a renewed effort to outright outlaw legally and voluntarily generated pornographic content in the United States on the internet. The Supreme Court of the United States established the Miller test of obscenity decades ago to establish a legal standard for what constitutes obscene and what constitutes protected speech. Lee is attempting to alter this standard. According to this school of thinking, the Miller test, which has three prongs, can be used as a kind of litmus test by judges, legislators, and politicians to determine if a certain work of media or content is “obscene.”
The concept of obscenity would be dramatically broadened by Sen. Lee’s measure, going beyond the Miller test. He wants to turn the filming and photography of consenting sexual acts, as well as legally generated content by firms and creators, into a repressive regulatory system that violates the First Amendment as it is now interpreted by the courts. At the conclusion of the current legislative session, which is in lame-duck status, Lee introduced IODA. But once the new session starts in January, it’s probable that Congress will be considering a similar plan.
The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) is a different idea that worries those in the adult entertainment industry. KOSA, which was introduced by U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn, R.-Tenn., and Richard Blumenthal, D.-Conn., is quite alarming. The bill’s stated goal is to safeguard kids from harm when using the internet. But civil society organizations are worried that the bill is really a monitoring tactic that puts kids and teenagers at risk, especially LGBTQ youngsters.
The final two years of President Joe Biden’s first term will be up for review in the 2024 election. The oldest president to ever assume office, Joe Biden, has not ruled out campaigning for reelection.
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