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Pornhub Sues Texas Over Age Verification Law Taking Effect Next Month

Author: Alex Cooper

Beginning next month, companies that distribute sexual materials online will be required to verify those accessing such material in Texas are at least 18 years old.

The law, House Bill 1181, forces a “Texas health and Human Services Warning” on all porn websites along with a process to verify someone’s age, according to Texas Public Radio.

The bill was signed into law by far-right Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in June.

To verify their age, those accessing the porn sites will submit pictures of their photo ID, and provide facial scans, or other information.

Pornhub and a group of other companies and individuals in the adult entertainment industry have sued Texas and argued that the impending law is a violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Communications Decency Act.

The industry group leading the charge is the advocacy group The Free Speech Coalition.

“The Act in effect requires Plaintiffs to block access to their websites in Texas wholesale, unless they implement a system that requires all visitors to transmit their personal information to verify that they are at least eighteen years old,” reads the complaint submitted by the Free Speech Coalition and other groups in court. “The Act also purports to compel Plaintiffs to display a lengthy, controversial, and factually false ‘TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES WARNING’ on their websites — maligning the very constitutionally protected content they feature.”

At the heart, the complaint states, is that they say it’s not about protecting minors from accessing adult material, but to block access to material, and speech, that Texas officials and lawmakers disagree with.

The complaint states the law uses “the least effective and yet also the most restrictive means of accomplishing Texas’ stated purpose of allegedly protecting minors.”

The groups say that minors could use VPNs or Tor to access the material anyway and that a better way of restricting such content to minors would be on-device content blocking.

“But such far more effective and far less restrictive means don’t really matter to Texas, whose true aim is not to protect minors but to squelch constitutionally protected free speech that the State disfavors,” the suit states.

It also reads, “Texas could easily spread its ideological, anti-pornography message through public service announcements and the like without foisting its viewpoint upon others through mandated statements that are a mix of falsehoods, discredited pseudo-science, and baseless accusations.”

A similar requirement for age verification has gone up in Louisiana, where a legal challenge has also been brought against the state over it.

The Louisiana law forces sites to have an age verification process if the site has 33.3 percent or more material considered by the law as “harmful to minors.”

That is defined by the law as content consisting of “pubic hair, anus, vulva, genitals, or nipple of the female breast; Touching, caressing, or fondling of nipples, breasts, buttocks, anuses, or genitals; Sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation; flagellation, excretory functions, exhibitions, or any other sexual act,” Vice reports.

TPR notes that the web traffic to Pornhub in Louisiana has dropped 80 percent since the law took effect.

Six other states have also passed such laws.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Alex Cooper

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