Bill Text: NH HB1256 | 2024 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Establishing liability for publishers and distributors of Internet material harmful to minors.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Republican 7-2)

Status: (Introduced) 2024-02-15 - Inexpedient to Legislate: Motion Adopted Voice Vote 02/15/2024 House Journal 5 [HB1256 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2024-HB1256-Introduced.html

HB 1256-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2024 SESSION

24-2248

05/10

 

HOUSE BILL 1256-FN

 

AN ACT establishing liability for publishers and distributors of Internet material harmful to minors.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Moffett, Merr. 4; Rep. J. Harvey-Bolia, Belk. 3; Rep. Harley, Rock. 30; Rep. Calabro, Hills. 45; Rep. Aron, Sull. 4; Rep. Selig, Straf. 10; Rep. Rollins, Sull. 3; Rep. B. King, Hills. 43; Sen. Lang, Dist 2

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes liability for publisher and distributors of Internet material harmful to minors.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

24-2248

05/10

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Four

 

AN ACT establishing liability for publishers and distributors of Internet material harmful to minors.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  New Chapter; Civil Damages for Publication of Material Harmful to Minors.  Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 544-C the following new chapter:

CHAPTER 544-D

CIVIL DAMAGES FOR PUBLICATION OF MATERIAL HARMFUL TO MINORS

544-D:1  Definitions.  In this chapter:

I.  "Commercial entity" includes corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, limited partnerships, sole proprietorships, or other legally recognized entities.

II.  "Distribute" means to issue, sell, give, provide, deliver, transfer, transmute, circulate, or disseminate by any means.

III.  "Internet" means the international computer network of both federal and non-federal interoperable packet switched data networks.

IV.  "Material harmful to minors" is defined as all of the following:

(a)  Any material that the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest.

(b)  Any material that exploits, is devoted to, or principally consists of descriptions of actual, simulated, or animated display or depiction of any of the following, in a manner patently offensive with respect to minors:

(1)  Pubic hair, anus, vulva, genitals, or nipple of the female breast.

(2)  Touching, caressing, or fondling of nipples, breasts, buttocks, anuses, or genitals.

(3)  Sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation, excretory functions, exhibitions, or any other sexual act.

(c)  The material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

V.  "Minor" means any person under the age of 18 years.

VI.  "News-gathering organization" means any of the following:

(a)  An employee of a newspaper, news publication, or news source, printed or on an online or mobile platform, of current news and public interest, who can provide documentation of such employment with the newspaper, news publication, or associated media source.

(b)  An employee of a radio broadcast station, television broadcast station, cable television operator, or wire service, who can provide documentation of such employment.

VII.  "Publish" means to communicate or make information available to another person or entity on a publicly available Internet website.

VIII.  "Reasonable age verification methods" include verifying that the person seeking to access the material is 18 years of age or older by using any of the following methods:

(a)  Provide a "digitized identification card", which means a data file available on any mobile device which has connectivity to the Internet through a state-approved agency or an authorized agent of a state agency that contains all the data elements visible on the face and back of a license or identification card.

(b)  Require the person attempting to access the material to comply with a commercial age verification system that verifies in one or more of the following ways:

(1)  Government-issued identification.

(2)  Any commercially reasonable method that relies on public or private transactional data to verify the age of the person attempting to access the information is at least 18 years of age or older.

IX.  "Substantial portion" means more than 33-1/3 percent of total material on a website, which meets the definition of "material harmful to minors".

X.  "Transactional data" means a sequence of information that documents an exchange, agreement, or transfer between an individual, commercial entity, or third party used for the purpose of satisfying a request or event.  Transactional data can include, but is not limited to records from mortgage, education, and employment entities.

544-D:2  Civil Damages for Publication of Material Harmful to Minors.

I.  Any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material potentially harmful to minors on the Internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material shall be held liable if the entity fails to implement reasonable age verification methods to confirm the age of individuals attempting to access the material.

II.  Any commercial entity or third party that performs the required age verification shall not retain any identifying information of the individual after access has been granted to the material.

III.  Any commercial entity found to have violated this section shall be liable to an individual for damages resulting from a minor's accessing the material, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees as ordered by the court.

IV.  A commercial entity that is found to have knowingly retained identifying information of the individual after access has been granted to the individual shall be liable to the individual for damages resulting from retaining the identifying personal information, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees as ordered by the court.

V.  This section shall not apply to any bona fide news or public interest broadcast, website video, report, or event and shall not be construed to affect the rights of any news-gathering organizations.

VI.  No Internet service provider, or its affiliates or subsidiaries, search engine, or cloud service provider shall be held to have violated the provisions of this section solely for providing access or connection to or from a website or other information or content on the Internet or a facility, system, or network not under that provider's control including transmission, downloading, intermediate storage, access software, or other to the extent such provider is not responsible for the creation of the content of the communication that constitutes material harmful to minors.

2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect on January 1, 2025.

 

LBA

24-2248

10/23/23

 

HB 1256-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to establishing liability for publishers and distributors of Internet material harmful to minors.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

Estimated State Impact - Increase / (Decrease)

 

FY 2024

FY 2025

FY 2026

FY 2027

Revenue

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Revenue Fund(s)

General Fund

Judicial Branch Information Technology Fund, Escrow Fund for Court Facility Improvements

Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source(s)

General Fund

 

Appropriations

$0

$0

$0

$0

Funding Source(s)

None

 

Does this bill provide sufficient funding to cover estimated expenditures? [X] No

Does this bill authorize new positions to implement this bill? [X] No

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill establishes liability for publisher and distributors of Internet material harmful to minors.  The Judicial Branch indicates that it is not possible to estimate how this bill would impact the number of filings in the courts.  Because the bill would establish a new cause of action, it is expected that civil litigation would increase. Common costs and fees for civil cases include the following:

Average Costs

FY 2024

FY 2025

Superior Court Complex Civil Case

$1,321

$1,347

Superior Court Routine Civil Case

$494

$504

Superior Court Entry Fees

As of 12/12/20

Original Entry Fee

$280

Third-Party Claim

$280

Motion to Reopen

$160

RSA 490:24 provides that 6 percent of each entry fee shall be deposited into the escrow fund for judicial branch facility improvements, and 30 percent of each entry fee shall be deposited into the judicial branch information technology fund.  The remainder is deposited in the State general fund.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Judicial Branch

 

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