May 23, 2022
A bill protecting K-12 school-aged children from access to pornographic or obscene material in schools or libraries or through online digital libraries was signed into law by the governor this week.
House Bill 3702 by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, require any Oklahoma school district, charter or virtual charter school, state agency, public library, or university that offers digital or online library database resources to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade to do so only if the vendor, person, or entity providing the resources verifies that all the resources comply with the provisions of the new law.
“Protecting the minds of our children is extremely important,” Russ said. “Even though we already have definitions of inappropriate materials in state law, we still find examples of these making their way into the hands of our children through our schools and libraries, and particularly through online resources. This legislation will help us filter these materials to keep our children safe.”
The new law will require schools and libraries to have safety policies and technology protections in place for K-12 students. A user would be prohibited and prevented from sending, receiving, viewing, or downloading materials that are child pornography or obscene materials, as defined in current state statutes, or materials that depict child sexual exploitation as defined in current state statute. Filters or blocks to such materials are easily available and would be required.
Contractors failing to comply would face loss of payment and be considered in breach of contract. Libraries would be required to submit a report by Dec. 1 each year to the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the state Senate detailing any issues related to provider compliance with technology protection measures.
The legislation likewise specifies that employees of Oklahoma school districts, charter or virtual charter schools, state agencies, public libraries, or universities shall not be exempt from state law which prohibits indecent exposure to obscene material or child pornography as defined in state statute.
Sen. Darrell Weaver is the principal author of the bill in the Senate.
“When it comes to children and teens, we owe it to them and to their families to ensure we are taking appropriate action to protect them from harmful material,” Weaver said. “This legislation is an important part of that effort, and I appreciate the Legislature and the governor for their support.”
HB3702 becomes effective Nov. 1.
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