Legislation requiring manufacturers to automatically activate the adult content filter on phones and tablets sold in Alabama died without a vote in the Senate in the last few remaining days of the session.

House Bill 298 (HB298), the Protection of Minors from Unfiltered Devices Act, was sponsored by State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville). The bill would've required manufacturers to enable the existing filters on smartphones and other devices blocking adult content.

"I think they decided not to cloture the last day for some reason," Sells said. "They would've probably had to cloture my bill but they do that all the time or used to. I really don't know what the problem was but they decided not to do it. It was a struggle all the way through, but you know I've been working on this since 2019."

Sells said he planned to file the bill again next year.

The bill would've applied to smartphones, tablets and smartwatches — anything activated through a mobile carrier. The settings already exist on current phones and tablets; the bill would require phones to have the filter turned on. After setting up a password to unlock the system, the setting could be turned off or left on, depending on the user's preference.

The bill had passed the House of Representatives and a Senate committee, despite opponents saying it would create an additional burden on manufacturers and service providers.

"The filter that we want to activate is already on the phone. All they have to do is make it password-accessible and when they sell the phone have it switched to the on position instead of off," Sells said. "Right now, you could go in there and turn it on, but your child could just go right in there and turn it off because it's not password-protected. That's all this bill does. It's very simple, very easy. They put out false information saying that they couldn't even turn that filter on that's already on the phone. That's totally ridiculous."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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