Bill Summary for H 534 (2023-2024)

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Summary date: 

May 3 2023

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2023-2024 Session
House Bill 534 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Intro. by N. Jackson, Carson Smith, Stevens, Biggs.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute to the 1st edition replaces the bill in its entirety with the following. 

Enacts new Article 51 to GS Chapter 66, entitled the Pornography Age Verification Enforcement Act (PAVE Act). Defines nine terms. Defines harmful to minors by incorporating the definition from GS 14-190.13 (that quality of any material or performance that depicts sexually explicit nudity or sexual activity and that, taken as a whole, has the following characteristics: (1) the average adult person applying contemporary community standards would find that the material or performance has a predominant tendency to appeal to a prurient interest of minors in sex; (2) the average adult person applying contemporary community standards would find that the depiction of sexually explicit nudity or sexual activity in the material or performance is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community concerning what is suitable for minors; and (3) the material or performance lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors).  

Specifies that any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material will be subject to civil penalties if the entity fails to perform reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of the individuals attempting to access the material. Provides for an investigation by the Attorney General and a civil action in the Superior Court of Wake County on behalf of the State to assess civil penalties, which cannot exceed $5,000 for each day of violation, subject to legal interest. Allows the court to assess an additional $10,000 penalty for entities that knowingly fail to perform reasonable age verification methods, subject to legal interest. Requires that the civil penalties be collected by the Department of Justice and remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund. Permits costs and fees, including attorneys’ fees, to be assessed against violators. Allows for the Attorney General to treat each violation as a separate violation or combine multiple violations into one violation. Provides for notice and time for compliance before filing suit.  Exempts bona fide news or public interest broadcast, website, video, report, or event from the PAVE Act. Specifies that the PAVE Act should not be construed to affect the rights of any news-gathering organization.

Further specifies that no internet service provider, or its affiliates or subsidiaries, search engine, or cloud service provider will be held to have violated the provisions of the PAVE Act 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 the control of that provider, including transmission, downloading, intermediate storage, access software, or other related capabilities, to the extent such provider is not responsible for the creation of the content of the communication that constitutes material harmful to minors.

Effective January 1, 2024, and applies to websites accessed on or after that date.