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Pornhub Disables Access In Texas Over User Age Verification Law

 A sign hangs at the Pornhub booth at the 2024 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at Resorts World Las Vegas on January 24, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A sign hangs at the Pornhub booth at the 2024 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at Resorts World Las Vegas on January 24, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller via Getty Images

Pornhub has disabled its site in Texas over its objections to a new law that requires the site to verify users’ age.

When accessing the site in Texas, users see the message: “As you may know, your elected officials in Texas are requiring us to verify your age before allowing you access to our website. Not only does this impinge on the rights of adults to access protected speech, it fails strict scrutiny by employing the least effective and yet also most restrictive means of accomplishing Texas’s stated purpose of allegedly protecting minors.

“While safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission, providing identification every time you want to visit an adult platform is not an effective solution for protecting users online, and in fact, will put minors and your privacy at risk.”

The message goes on to read that requiring this kind of age verification drives people to other websites with fewer safety measures in place.

It continues: “Unfortunately, the Texas law for age verification is ineffective, haphazard, and dangerous. Not only will it not actually protect children, but it will also inevitably reduce content creators’ ability to post and distribute legal adult content and directly impact their ability to share the artistic messages they want to convey with it.”

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, sued Pornhub’s parent company, Aylo, to comply with the law, which was passed last year.

In a statement when he filed the lawsuit, Paxton said, “Texas has a right to protect its children from the detrimental effects of pornographic content. I look forward to holding any company accountable that violates our age verification laws intended to prevent minors from being exposed to harmful, obscene material on the internet.”

The state can impose hefty fines on internet companies that don’t comply. Fines include up to $10,000 per day for not following the law, an additional $10,000 per day if the company illegally retains users’ identifying information, and $250,000 if a child is exposed to pornographic content because the company didn’t properly verify a user’s age.

A coalition of adult entertainment companies tried to block the law, but last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found partly in the state’s favor, saying Texas should be allowed to impose age verification requirements on adult sites, while blocking a separate part of the law that would have required adult sites from applying a health warning on their webpages.

“The age-verification requirement is rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in preventing minors’ access to pornography,” the court said.

In a statement to HuffPost, Paxton said that sites like Pornhub are “on the run” because of Texas’s new law.

“We recently secured a major victory against PornHub and other sites that sought to block this law from taking effect,” Paxton said. “In Texas, companies cannot get away with showing porn to children. If they don’t want to comply, good riddance.”

In a statement to HuffPost, Alex Kekesi, vice president of brand and community at Aylo, said the company is reviewing options and consulting its legal team.

“Aylo has publicly supported age verification of users for years, but we believe that any law to this effect must ensure minors do not access content intended for adults and preserve user safety and privacy,” the statement reads. “We believe that the real solution for protecting minors and adults alike is to verify users’ ages at the point of access — the users’ devices — and to deny or permit access to age-restricted materials and websites based on that verification.“While safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission, giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the solution for protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk.”

Texas Sen. Angela Paxton, one of the law’s sponsors and Ken Paxton’s wife, wrote on social media: “I am glad to see our hard work in passing #HB1181 is paying off. It’s time to protect our children from the harmful content on these sites.”

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