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Pornhub shocks Utah by restricting access over age-verification law

Pornhub shocks Utah by restricting access over age-verification law

Since Monday, Pornhub has begun blocking access for all Utah visitors, taking a strong stance against the state’s recently passed age-verification law. In a video statement that now appears on Pornhub’s homepage when Utah users attempt to access the adult site, Pornhub spokesperson Sharita Bell said the law was not a “real solution.”

“As you may know, your elected officials have required us to verify your age before granting you access to our website,” Bell said in the video. “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.”

In its statement, Pornhub warned that “without proper enforcement,” Utah’s law would put children and privacy at risk by driving Pornhub users to platforms that choose not to comply with the law—including pirate sites possibly hosting illegal content.

“As we’ve seen in other states, this just drives traffic to sites with far fewer safety measures in place,” Bell said. “Very few sites are able to compare to the robust trust and safety measures we currently have in place.”

Until Utah can enforce the law across all platforms, Pornhub has warned that access will be restricted. Other MindGeek sites like Brazzers, YouPorn, and Redtube have also blocked access in Utah, Axios reported. To remedy the situation, the adult sites urge Utah users to contact their representatives and request that the state update its laws to a “real solution.”

The remedy that Pornhub said would be “the best and most effective solution for protecting children and adults alike is to identify users by their device and allow access to age restricted materials and websites based on that identification.”

In response to Pornhub’s protest, the Republican Utah state senator who sponsored the age-verification law, Todd Weiler, told Ars that “Utah’s new law only requires adult sites to make reasonable efforts to confirm that the consumers of their content are adults.” Weiler likened the policy of requiring age verification to access adult sites to requiring cashiers to check IDs before alcohol and tobacco sales, saying, “I don’t think that is too much to ask.”

Because Pornhub had not protested Louisiana’s law, Weiler seemed surprised that Pornhub took the seemingly drastic step of blocking Utah users.

“When I ran the legislation last February, I did not expect adult porn sites to be blocked in Utah,” Weiler told Ars. “Not at all.”

Utah’s age-verification law takes effect for adult sites on May 3. It holds companies liable if minors sue after accessing adult content on their platforms.

According to Pornhub, Utah’s law mandating age verification differs from Louisiana’s law in at least one meaningful way. In Louisiana, the state government created a digital wallet that Pornhub could access to securely verify state IDs. Because Utah has no such technology, Axios reported, Pornhub said it had no choice but to make “the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website” in Utah.

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