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Virtually all devices have filters, but they are OFF when activated. Unsuspecting people, including vulnerable children, have immediate access to hardcore pornography and explicit content that can ruin lives—material that harms the brain and fuels addiction. Online pornography often includes incest, racism, and extreme violence. Children are at most risk. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
 reviewed over 100 academic studies on the negative impacts of pornography (summary available here). This evidence should inform state telecommunications policy.

Children’s Default to Safety Bill would mandate that smart phones and tablets have their existing filters be defaulted ON upon activation in the state of Montana. Currently, the status quo is that these filters are defaulted OFF, resulting in parents and caregivers shouldering the often overcomplicated burden of trying to figure out what filters are available and how to turn them on in order to protect children. By having these filters defaulted ON, we are implementing a low-barrier, basic level of protection for kids that can easily be changed by adults during activation.


  • Manufacturers of smart devices already have filtering capabilities and parental control software available on devices but they are overly complicated for parents or guardians to navigate.

  • This legislation requires manufacturers of smart phones and tablets, to activate filtering technology automatically to “ON” – filters are already embedded in each device!

  • Adults can still access and change the settings on the filters by using the passcode they selected during activation. The legislation is not burdensome: it does not restrict adult access to speech.

  • By placing filter activation on the device itself, instead of the network, the filter protects minors online wherever the device is used.

  • This model legislation recognizes the serious harm that can result to children from online pornography exposure and allows the government to encourage the use of filters while empowering parents to determine what material is appropriate for their children.

  • Parents, guardians, and the state’s attorney general will be able to bring civil actions against manufacturers of devices that do not comply with the law.

  • The governor of Utah signed this bill into law in March 2021. It will go into effect when five more states decide to protect youth from pornography on smart devices. Key Takeaway: We can protect children from exposure to harmful material online while not overburdening the first amendment’s right to free speech.

LINKS TO MORE INFO: *Prepared in collaboration with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

  1. Informational Flier

  2. Legal Memo Flier-Short

  3. Legal Memo Flier-Long

  4. Research Flier

  5. HB 349 Bill in the Montana Legislature 


  • 2017: Montana passed HB 247 which established that showing sexually explicit material to a child constitutes sexual abuse.

  • 2019: Montana passed a resolution, HR5, declaring pornography a public health hazard.

  • 2021: Utah enacted HB 72 which was the model legislation for our Children's Default to Safety Bill. This upcoming 2023 session, there are at least 6 other states besides Montana that are working to pass this same legislation: Iowa, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, and Idaho.

  • 2021: Google set a precedent for "defaulting to safety" when they announced that all future Chromebooks going to students K-12 would have the filters defaulted ON (link 1, link 2).


Support this legislation in one (or more) of three ways. 

  1. Sign your name HERE.

  2. Fill out a 1 minute survey HERE.

  3. Send a letter of support to


A simple action from you can make the difference in thousands of lives of Montana youth. Please take the time to do one or more of the above!

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