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Mixed start for privacy advocates fighting US age verification rules for adult content

Mixed start for privacy advocates fighting US age verification rules for adult content
 

Legal strategies are being formed to prevent U.S. states from imposing new restrictions, including age-verification policies, on online publishers of adult content.

Publishers don’t want more restrictions on their product, of course, but others say blocking content violates the nation’s constitutional right to create and consume information without undue government intervention.

Others feel governments and other organizations will collect, keep and use identification data without consent or adequate security.

Utah’s new law requiring adult sites to prove their visitors are not minors easily withstood its first court challenge this month when a lawsuit opposing the regulation was dismissed.

The U.S. District Court judge ruled narrowly against advocates like Free Speech Coalition, an association promoting the interests of what it describes as the adult industry.

Utah’s law does not give the state the power to go after publishers for not checking ages. It gives citizens the power to do that, according to reporting by U.S. network news broadcaster ABC. The state, which was the target of the suit, can’t be taken to court for enforcing a law it cannot itself enforce.

Last week, an adult content publisher, Pornhub, and some privacy advocates, filed suit to stop Texas from doing the same thing. The Free Speech Coalition joined with Pornhub to stop the Texas law from becoming law September 1.

According to reporting by technology culture publication Vice, the law’s opponents in court say age verification violates the Constitution and the U.S. Communications Decency Act.

Texas’ law is considered highly similar to a pioneering regulation enacted in neighboring Louisiana. Legislators there folded their age verification strategy into its mobile driver’s license.

Multiple states are working on restrictions, most efforts involve requiring people to prove their ages with face biometrics.

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