Four members of Congress have requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) use obscenity laws already on the statute book to prosecute major pornography producers and distributors.
In a letter to the DOJ provided to National Review, Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and Brian Babin (R-Tex.) all warned of an “explosion in pornography” that is fueling violence against women, human trafficking, and child pornography.
The members asked Attorney General William Barr to bring back the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in the DOJ’s Criminal Justice Division. The task force, founded in 2005 under the George W. Bush administration, was responsible for invesitgating and prosecuting producers of hard core pornography under obscentiy laws. The task force was dissolved by Eric Holder, Attorney General under President Barack Obama, in 2011.
Rep. Banks, who led the letters signatories, said in a statement provided to CNA that the internet and other technologies have brought about convenience, but that has a “dark side” to it.
“Anyone connected to the Internet – including children – has on-demand access to billions of photos and videos of people having sex or committing other lewd acts,” Banks stated.
“The prevalence of pornography in our society has consequences, especially for our children. It’s time we start talking about it,” Banks said.
Obscenity laws are already on the books forbidding obscene pornography online, on TV, at motels, and through retail, but the laws need to be enforced, the letter says.
“Given the pervasiveness of obscenity, it’s our recommendation that you declare the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority and urge your U.S. Attorneys to bring prosecutions against the major producers and distributors of such material,” the letter stated.
Pornography has been declared a “public health crisis” by 15 state legislatures. President Trump, as a 2016 presidential candidate, signed the Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge to prioritize enforcement of obscenity and anti-child pornography laws.
Pope Francis, in a recent meeting at the Vatican with technology executives from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Paramount Pictures, emphasized the responsibility of technology companies to protect against the abuse and exploitation of children.