Court makes it clear – age verification on adult sites is constitutional

Age verification to watch adult content does not violate the First Amendment, say authorities.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit came to the conclusion that imposing age verification for access to pornography does not violate the First Amendment.

The controversial law was reinforced on September 1st, 2023, obliging users to verify their age using a photo ID. The critics opposed the bill, calling it “constitutionally problematic” as it raises privacy concerns and might interfere with freedom of speech.

However, the higher court's ruling partly reverses a previous order from a district court that had temporarily stopped the bill. In November, the Fifth Circuit Court paused the enforcement of the lower court's order, letting the state implement the law until the recent decision.

The newest ruling found that requiring age verification is a reasonable way for the government to limit minors' access to pornography.

The court determined that using biometric age verification through facial features, coupled with an examination of government IDs, is permissible under HB 1181. Moreover, it concluded that employing at least one of these methods poses no heightened privacy risk compared to age verification conducted in person.

The court maintained a ban on the requirement for health warnings to be shown on all pornographic websites and ads.

The age verification laws on pornography sites were pushed in multiple states, including Alabama, Utah, Louisiana, Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Montana.

Pornhub claimed the new rules infringe on the First Amendment and privacy rights of adult customers. It has shut down service to IP addresses from Montana and North Carolina.

In February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton defended the new law by filing a lawsuit against Aylo Global Entertainment, owners of Pornhub, for violating a Texas age verification law by using inadequate age verification measures.

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