Users in Montana and North Carolina lose access to major adult site

Pornhub, one of the world’s largest adult websites, has blocked access to its site across the US states of Montana and North Carolina. The company is responding to new ID verification laws that it doesn’t like.

It seems Pornhub has decided not to wait until age verification bills in each state, intended to only allow access to online adult content to those at least 18 years old, became law, opting instead to move first.

After saying that the new rules infringe on the First Amendment and privacy rights of adult customers, it shut down service to IP addresses from Montana and North Carolina. Pornhub also said that the requirements put children at risk because they are too easy to circumnavigate.

In total, Pornhub is no longer available to around 11.6 million people in the US. Just over one million people live in Montana, and 10.5 million people reside in North Carolina. Both states are now leading the list with the highest number of searches for “VPN.”

A number of states have taken action in a bid to prevent children from accessing pornography over the past couple of years, although that has sparked disputes over privacy and free speech.

For instance, Montana’s Senate Bill 544, which took effect on January 1st, now requires age verification for websites that contain a large portion of adult material. Users must prove they’re at least 18 years old.

In a statement to local network KTVQ, Pornhub said that it didn’t agree with the 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.”

North Carolina’s verification rules went into effect this week. Violations can result in civil lawsuits filed against a publisher or a company hired to perform age verification. They must check credentials against a commercial database or a “commercially reasonable” verification process.

Personal information may not be retained, according to the law. But Aylo, the parent company of Pornhub and other adult websites such as Brazzers, Redtube, and YouPorn, was not convinced.

If anybody in Montana and North Carolina tries to access an Aylo website, they now see a video message from performer Cherie DeVille, explaining that giving a copy of their ID to adult platforms puts their children and their privacy at risk.

Montana and North Carolina are only the latest states to require adult platforms to verify visitors’ ages. Louisiana started the trend in early 2023, and since then, Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas have passed their own bills.

In 2023, US District Judge David Ezra struck down Texas House Bill 1181, a law signed by the state's Governor Greg Abbott in June requiring age verification to view adult websites, after the legislation was challenged by the Free Speech Coalition.

Ezra said that the law violates free speech rights and is overbroad and vague. The judge added he had privacy concerns because permissible age verification is using a traceable government-issued identification, and the government has access to and is not required to delete the data.

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