Pornhub blocks Texas from accessing site in opposition to age-verification law

A Pornhub logo is displayed at the company's booth at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 24, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A Pornhub logo is displayed at the company's booth at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 24, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Pornhub has cut off access to its website in Texas in opposition to a law requiring users of pornographic websites to verify their age, a measure seeking to make it more difficult for minors to view online pornography.

In an announcement Thursday, Pornhub told Texans attempting to access the website that the platform would not be accessible due to the age verification law, which went into effect in 2023. 

Pornhub denounced the law as "ineffective, haphazard, and dangerous" and claimed that it violated "the rights of adults to access protected speech."

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"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," claimed Pornhub.

"Attempting to mandate age verification without any means to enforce at scale gives platforms the choice to comply or not, leaving thousands of platforms open and accessible."

The adult entertainment site believes the Texas law will "not actually protect children" and argues that "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."

As an alternative, Pornhub proposed "to verify users' age on their device and to either deny or allow access to age-restricted materials and websites based on that verification."

Sen. Angela Paxton, a Republican who sponsored the bill, commented on Pornhub's announcement, saying that "pornography industry is being forced to comply with the law."

"My bill created an age verification requirement for online pornography websites in Texas to protect minors from accessing their harmful content," she wrote.

"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," she added

Last June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1181, which requires pornographic websites to verify the user's identity through digital identification or a third-party verification system using government-issued identification.

According to the law, any company that violates the requirement can be fined up to $10,000 per day, with an additional $10,000 per day if it illegally keeps identifying information and $250,000 if a minor sees pornographic content because their age was not properly verified.

The owners of porn sites Pornhub, XVideos and XNXX filed a lawsuit, with a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issuing an order in November that allowed Texas to enforce the law.

In February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he was filing a lawsuit against Aylo Global Entertainment, the parent company of Pornhub formerly known as MindGeek.

"Texas has a right to protect its children from the detrimental effects of pornographic content," said Paxton, as quoted in the announcement.

"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."

Eight states have passed similar legislation requiring age verification to prevent children from gaining access to online pornography, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Pornhub has blocked access in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Utah and Virginia. 

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