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Pornhub sues Texas over new law requiring age verification

A mobile phone with the logo of Pornhub on its screen. (Photo by Nikos Pekiaridis/NurPhoto)
Nikos Pekiaridis
A mobile phone with the logo of Pornhub on its screen. (Photo by Nikos Pekiaridis/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

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Starting Sept. 1 in Texas, entities that distribute sexual materials online will be required to verify that users of their site are at least 18 years of age.

Last June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1181, which requires a “Texas Health and Human Services Warning” on all porn sites and a way to verify that the web user is over 18 years old.

That could include users submitting pictures of their photo ID, facial scans or other information, either to third-party companies or to the sites themselves.

In response Pornhub, along with several other members and activists in the adult industry are suing Texas to block the state’s impending law.

The adult industry advocacy group, The Free Speech Coalition, claims the law violates the U.S. Constitution.

"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," read the complaint. "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."

The plaintiffs claimed the true aim of the law is not to protect minors but to squelch constitutionally protected free speech that the state disfavors.

A similar law first went into effect in Louisiana, and a similar lawsuit was filed but there has not been resolved.

Since then, web traffic to Pornhub in Louisiana dropped 80%.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi