A Virginia legislative committee has shelved a bill that would note many charges on credit card statements as payment for "sexually explicit content."

A vote by the House Committee on Corporations, Insurance, and Banking put off further consideration of Republican Robert G. Marshall's bill until next year.

Rep. Marshall said his aim was to protect juveniles from Internet pornography.

The bill would require Internet providers to post warnings that their services gave access to services with sexually explicit content.

Charges on card statements for actual connection to such services would have to be labeled "sexually explicit content." Otherwise they'd be deemed void, as would charges "related to a juvenile's use of such service."

The bill did not say how Internet suppliers would determine when sexually explicit services had been used. But the implication was that new monitoring would be necessary.

The committee voted in January to defer the bill. Card industry experts said that though it doesn't seem a serious threat, it is important to scrutinize legislation that restricts credit card commerce over the Internet.

"When they are talking about legislation affecting payment via the Internet, that is something that the card industry will have to look out for," said Visa's Susan Murdy, vice president of public and corporate affairs.

Charlotte Newton, vice president for consumer and government affairs at MasterCard International, said she knew of no similar bills pending elsewhere in the country.

However, she said that there are fundamental consumer rights at stake, and that consumers are entitled to privacy on their statements.

Ms. Newton added that the bill was poorly conceived. "It was taken off the table early in the session because it was not feasible - it was an unworkable proposal," she said. "I think that the general feeling was that it was totally out of left field and totally inappropriate."

Virginia bankers said most of their industry and most retailers in the state oppose the measure as cumbersome and confusing, though they also oppose children's access to pornography.

"We have no way of knowing who did what, and to allocate time on a Visa or MasterCard statement is undoable," said Pat Satterfield, executive director of the Virginia Association of Community Bankers. "It would have asked the banks to trace something that was untraceable."

She said the bill would also have put an unfair burden on banks to police their customers' Internet use.

Michael Toalson, senior vice president/government relations at Virginia Bankers Association, said the bill would have imposed impossible requirements for tracing Web-site use. He added that there was no way for a bank to know when a juvenile has accessed a pornographic site.

Mr. Toalson expressed particular concern with the provision that would have allowed cardholders to void charges made by juveniles for sexually explicit material, making the bank liable.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, said the bill "confuses the message and the messenger."

It is "analogous to asking the telephone company to monitor every phone call," said Mr. Miller, whose Arlington-based nonprofit group addresses Internet industry concerns. Mr. Miller attended the committee debate.

Rep. Marshall, the sponsor of the bill, is a consultant for the American Life League, an anti-abortion organization in Stafford, Va. He said his measure would be simple to implement.

"The establishment is against this because they say it burdens commerce," he said. "It doesn't burden commerce any more than any other warning label."

Though many observers said the bill has little chance of being passed next year in its current form, it still lurks in committee.

"I don't want to take this lightly," said Mr. Miller, president of the Internet group. "Next year is an election year."

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