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Pornhub boycotts markets in 2 more states over age verification laws

Federal law proposed
Pornhub boycotts markets in 2 more states over age verification laws

New age verification laws are directly and indirectly blocking access to the U.S.’ major sex-related entertainment sites.

The states of Montana and North Carolina lost access to Canada-based Pornhub this week when it shut down service to relevant IP addresses. Pornhub was acting before age verification bills in each state became law.

The regulations are intended to only allow access to online adult material to those at least 18 years old.

Pornhub executives have said the rules infringe on the First Amendment and privacy rights of adult customers. As well, they say, the laws put children at risk because available processes are too easy to circumnavigate by minors.

There are better methods for protecting children, preferably those funded and created by government rather than Ethical Capital Partners, the Canadian private equity firm that owns Pornhub and a number of other producers and distributors.

Pornhub blocked its content to Montanans beginning this week. There, targeted companies have to use government-issued IDs or other “commercially reasonable” verification tools, according to Newsweek.

Targeted companies include those displaying mature material – that which is harmful to minors — equaling more than a third of a site’s total content.

According to the Courthouse News Service, North Carolina’s verification rules went into effect this week.

Violations can result in civil lawsuits filed against a publisher or a company hired to perform age verification. They must check credentials against a commercial database or a “commercially reasonable” verification process.

Personal information may not be retained, according to the law.

The politically conservative state of Utah imposed age checks for pornography early in 2023, prompting Pornhub to shut off access in the state. Like Montana, Utah legislators said only a portion of a publisher’s content can be adult-themed. Similar legislation for social media goes into effect in March.

Utahns have been given a private right of action under the law, too. That means large class actions could be filed against publishers, a potent consideration for businesses.

At the end of 2023, Utah Senator Mike Lee proposed age verification legislation at the federal level.

The SCREEN Act (a tortuous acronym for “Shielding Children’s Retinas from Egregious Exposure on the Net Act’’) proposed by Lee would put the Federal Trade Commission in charge of enforcement.

The Act has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

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One Reply to “Pornhub boycotts markets in 2 more states over age verification laws”

  1. This tactic is legally flawed – there is no “get-out-of-jail-free” card for adult sites if child users reach them using a VPN or any other location-spoofing mechanism. The laws in both states require age verification to prevent access by any minor in those states – it does not matter whether the child connects to the site directly, via a VPN or using two paper cups and a piece of string – the site is still liable to legal action.

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