Pornhub, a pornography website receiving millions of visits a day from people across the world, will no longer be available to watchers in Texas due to a state law requiring age verification to prevent minors from accessing the adult site.
When Texans go to Pornhub they will encounter a message saying the law not only impinges “on the rights of adults to access protected speech, it fails strict scrutiny by employing the least effective and yet also most restrictive means of accomplishing Texas’s stated purpose of allegedly protecting minors.”
Porhub’s message adds how the law is “ineffective, haphazard and dangerous.”
“Not only will it not actually protect children, but 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.”
Pornhub says the “only effective solution” to protect children and adults is to verify the users’ age on their devices and deny or allow them access to age-restricted content and websites based on that verification, according to the message on the site.
“Until the real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Texas,” the adult site’s message read.
Texas law HB 1181 requires age verification for ‘sexual material harmful to minors’
The HB 1181 law primarily passed by Republicans in the Texas Legislature requires companies that offer “sexual material harmful to minors” to ensure its site’s users are 18 or older with an online system that can verify their government-issued identification or another system that utilizes public and private data.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a member of the Republican party, sued Pornhub’s parent company, Aylo, to force them to comply with the HB 1181 law. Paxton also threatened the company with millions of dollars in civil penalties — including up to $10,000 per day and $250,000 “if a child is exposed to pornographic content due to not properly verifying a user’s age.”
“Texas has a right to protect its children from the detrimental effects of pornographic content,” Paxton said in a news release announcing the suit. “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.”
Paxton’s office declared victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit determined HB 1181 did not violate the First Amendment.
“Applying rational-basis review, the age-verification requirement is rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in preventing minors’ access to pornography,” the court said. “Therefore, the age-verification requirement does not violate the First Amendment.”
Indiana age-verification bill could be enacted next
Similar legislation in Indiana could become law and possibly lead to Pornhub also disabling access to that state, the difference is, the company may also be held legally liable by minors’ parents.
Senate Bill 17 is on its way to Indiana Gov. Gov. Eric Holcomb. and it would, like HB 1181, require “adult-oriented websites” to mandate the verification of its users to make sure they are 18 or older.
According to Indiana law, harmful materials for minors can include representations of nudity, sexual conduct and sadomasochistic abuse.
The Indiana bill differs from the Texas law because it allows parents to sue if their children access a pornography site that is “knowingly or intentionally” not utilizing age-verification measures. The minor’s parent or guardian can receive up to $5,000 in damages if a court rules in their favor. The attorney general can also sue pornography websites that don’t abide by the law, but the civil penalty would be up to $250,000.
Pornhub also disabled access in 2023 in Utah when the state passed its age verification law.