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Pornhub Blocks Utah in Response to Age Verification Law

'Giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform ... will put children and your privacy at risk,' said the company

The largest pornography website in the United States has blocked the state of Utah after the state legislature passed an age verification requirement.

A new Utah law requires websites that host porn to verify the age of viewers to prevent minors from accessing adult content. The law, which goes into effect on May 3, also grants parents the right to sue pornography websites for damages if they do not enforce the age verification requirement.

“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 most effective solution for protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk,” Pornhub said in a statement that now appears before videos accessed by a viewer located in Utah. “Until a real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Utah.”

“Please contact your representatives before it is too late and demand device-based verification solutions that make the internet safer while also respecting your privacy,” the company added. 

MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent company, added the same messages to its other sites – Brazzers, YouPorn and Redtube, per Axios.

State Senator Todd Weiler proposed the age-verification requirement in January.

“It is a continuation of our effort to try and protect children from hardcore pornography,” Weiler told ABC 4. “It is already illegal for children to watch it and it is illegal for adults to show it.”

He said the goal was to “let kids be kids” and described the government ID requirement as a “speed bump” to prevent young children from accessing the content.

“If adults want to view pornography, that is an adult issue,” the state senator said. “But kids – 12-year-olds, 11-year-olds – they shouldn’t be looking at that material.”

Weiler led the 2016 effort to have pornography declared a public health crisis in Utah. At least 15 other states have considered taking similar action in the years since. 

Louisiana enacted an age verification requirement for pornography websites in January, just before Utah. The law, Act 440, applies to any website where 33.3% of the content is pornographic although, according to NPR, the method by which the percentage was determined was not explicitly stated.

“Any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material shall be held liable if the entity fails to perform reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of individuals attempting to access the material,” the bill states. 

Pornhub did not block Louisana users from accessing its website and is enforcing the age verification process. Louisiana offers government-run digital wallets that can be used to access porn sites. 

Age verification requirements have been proposed in at least 11 other states since Louisiana’s policy took effect, including Mississippi, Virginia, Florida, Oregon, South Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, West Virginia, California, and Kentucky.

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