Utah Governor Considering a Long-Shot Ban on Porn on the State's Phones and Tablets

Residents of Utah are waiting to find out whether Gov. Spencer Cox will sign a bill with a long-shot chance of censoring pornography on their cell phones.

Cox, 45, has not indicated whether he will approve or block the measure, which is backed by members of the state's Republican majority.

The religiously conservative state, with an aversion to vices like alcohol and gambling, has a history of anti-porn positions — previously declaring it a "public health crisis."

"Gov. Cox plans to review this bill in depth next week," spokeswoman Jennifer Napier-Pearce told PEOPLE in a statement. "Our bill signing period ends next Thursday, so he'll make a decision about this measure before then."

A Cox spokesperson told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he "will carefully consider" signing the bill over the next week.

He has until March 25 to decide, as lawmakers in the state continue to debate the issue.

Even if Cox signs the bill, the AP reports there's a provision that says the legislation wouldn't go into effect unless five other states passed similar measures.

"Manufacturers and retailers voiced concerns that it would be difficult to implement the filters for a single state," according to the AP.

When asked by PEOPLE, Cox's spokesperson could not expand on the provision further because the governor's office has not reviewed the bill in detail yet.

Bringing on five states is a challenge, given the country's political diversity. There would likely be legal problems as well, because the First Amendment shields most pornography.

Nonetheless, the bill still carries significance. If signed, Utah would become the first state to mandate filters be placed on cell phone to limit access to pornographic content.

Proponents have framed the legislation as an effort to protect underage children from accessing pornography on mobile devices. 

The bill would require cellphones sold in the state, as well as devices like tablets, to "automatically enable a filter capable of blocking" explicit sexual content.

According to the bill's text, the measure would "enable certain users to deactivate the filter for the device or for specific content." The AP reported that adults would be among those able to opt out.

Every Democratic lawmaker in the Utah state Senate voted against the bill earlier this month, according to the caucus.

"We are getting out of our lane," Sen. Derek Kitchen said at the time. "This ought to be left up to parents."

Sen. Gene Davis, another state Democrat, said the proposed legislation raised "so many constitutional questions."

But state Rep. Susan Pulsipher, who sponsored the House bill, said this month she was "excited" her legislation was picking up traction.

"We just don't want our children to be inadvertently exposed to pornography," she told constituents in a Facebook video.

However, she too recognized the bill wouldn't do anything right away.

"We're just going to wait," she said. "It could be up to 10 years, but we're going to wait until that has been adopted in five other states."

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