Don’t trust, do verify.
That’s the aim of proposed legislation that targets commercial sexual exploitation of a minor.
The Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding HB 5504, which would make it a crime for publications to disseminate or display advertisements without verifying the actual age of a person in an advertisement.
In testimony before the committee, Chris VanDeHoef, Executive Director of Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association said CDNA supports the proposal’s intent but opposes the draft language.
“Some ads, namely published in some weekly papers across Connecticut, provide advertising for adults seeking services that are currently legal, often providing pictures with their ads,” VanDeHoef said.
VanDeHoef told the committee that process for running these types of ads, protected under the First Amendment, doesn’t allow publishers the chance to verify the age of a person in a picture. He said CDNA would consider the possibility of requiring a copy of the ID of a person in an ad to keep on file with a copy of the ad prior to running.
Jim Amann, former state Rep. from Milford and former Speaker of the state House of Representatives would have none of that.
“The bill is necessary because, more and more, traffickers – who otherwise operate in the shadows – are boldly promoting their wares through print and online “Escort” advertising,” Amann said. “We believe that publishers hold some responsibility for the content that appears on their pages, especially if these 'Escort' ads are proven to be a front for illicit sex trading.”