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New records inspections proposed for US pornogrphy industry

June 15, 2004

Kat Sunlove
WASHINGTON — Attorney General John Ashcroft proposed tougher records inspections Monday for the pornography industry to ensure that no minors are being used in sexually explicit films, books, magazines and Web sites.

Meanwhile, a Justice Department report conceded that the department had done no records inspections over the past 12 years, though rules authorizing them have been on the books.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who had called for the report, said that "Enforcement to date, across administrations from both parties, has been less than stellar, to put it mildly."

The proposed rule is based on legislation signed into law last year by President George W. Bush, the Protect Act, which calls for stiffer federal penalties for crimes against children and gives prosecutors new tools to fight child pornography.

The proposed rule tightens the list of acceptable forms of identification, scrapping college IDs and selective service cards.

It also requires that forms of identification be accessible to government agencies to ensure they are legitimate.

The rule will be finalized after a public comment period.

"These changes will put teeth into our efforts to ensure that children are not being used as performers in the sexually explicit productions of the media," Ashcroft said. "There will be no excuses for anyone who takes part in abusing children for sexually explicit productions."

Kat Sunlove, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the pornography industry, said the group supports efforts to protect children from sexual abuse.

But she maintained that underage actors are not used in adult entertainment.

"We don't need to," Sunlove said. "There are too many 18-year-olds that knock on the door on their birthday." Sunlove said her group would probably not oppose the proposed regulations. – Sapa-AP

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