Age/Identity Verification is back on for Texas porn viewers
|23rd September 2023
See article from avn.com
A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an administrative stay on the preliminary injunction blocking Texas House Bill 1181 from entering into force. This means that the law requiring age verification for internet porn is now
in effect, at least until a full hearing challenging the internet censorship law as unconstitutional.
House Bill (HB) 1181 is a controversial law requiring an age verification regimen for all adult websites that have users from Texas IP addresses. The
law was challenged in a federal district court last month due to a measure in the bill that would require adult websites to additionally post health warning labels at the top and bottom of web pages and on marketing collateral. The Free Speech
Coalition, the parent companies of the largest adult tube sites in the world, and pay-sites affiliated with these platforms sued the state of Texas , arguing that HB 1181 is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.
They argued that a
government cannot require a privately owned website to issue a public health warning when the claims in the warnings are not accepted by mainstream medicine, psychology and neuroscience. Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra agreed with the
plaintiffs and issued a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking Texas from enforcing the law. but it was this decision that was overturned in this appeal.
Federal judges block internet censorship laws about to commence in Texas and Arkansas
See article from therecord.media
Hours before controversial internet censorship laws were set to take effect in Texas and Arkansas, two federal judges granted preliminary injunctions temporarily blocking them.
The more narrow Texas law sought to restrict minors from accessing content
that is meant for adults. The law in particular required age/ID verification to access porn websites. It was opposed by free speech groups and adult performer industry groups.
The Arkansas law, known as the Social Media Safety Act, is broader and
would prevent minors from creating accounts without parental permission on platforms earning more than $100 million a year. The tech industry trade group NetChoice, which represents Google, Meta and TikTok, among others, sued in June to block the law on
the grounds that it is unconstitutional and would place an onerous burden on digital platforms. In Arkansas, U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks sided with NetChoice , saying that the law is not targeted to address the harms it has identified, and
further research is necessary before the State may begin to construct a regulation that is narrowly tailored to address the harms that minors face due to prolonged use of certain social media. Brooks added that age--gating social media platforms does not
seem to be an effective approach when, in reality, it is the content on particular platforms that is driving the State's true concerns.
The more narrow Texas law seeking to stop minors from accessing adult content online was temporarily blocked
Thursday by District Judge David Alan Ezra in a move that the Free Speech Coalition said in a press release will protect citizens from facing a chilling effect on legally-protected speech.
The temporary injunctions block the laws from taking
effect until further adjudication. It is unclear whether both Arkansas and Texas intend to appeal.
The Australian Government finds that age assurance technologies are immature, and present privacy, security, implementation and enforcement risks
|31st August 2023
See article from
See report [pdf] from infrastructure.gov.au
The Australian Government has been researching the way forward for age verification requirements for porn websites. Unlike the UK government who only 'think about the children', the Australian Government have also been thinking of the data protection and
security risks to porn users who's ID data will inevitably find its way into the wrong hands.
The government writes in surprisingly hard hitting report. The Roadmap to Age Verification is a document produced by Australia's eSafety Commissioner. The
document includes the paragraph:
The Roadmap finds age assurance technologies are immature, and present privacy, security, implementation and enforcement risks
describes measures which could determine a person’s age to a high level of accuracy, such as by using official government identity documents. However, the Roadmap examines the use of broader ‘age assurance’ technologies which include measures that
perform ‘age estimation’ functions. The Roadmap notes action already underway by industry to introduce and improve age assurance and finds that the market for age assurance products is immature, but developing.
It is clear from
the Roadmap that at present, each type of age verification or age assurance technology comes with its own privacy, security, effectiveness and implementation issues.
For age assurance to be effective, it must:
• work reliably
• be comprehensively implemented, including where pornography is hosted outside of Australia’s jurisdiction; and
• balance privacy and security, without introducing risks to the personal information of adults who choose to
access legal pornography.
Age assurance technologies cannot yet meet all these requirements. While industry is taking steps to further develop these technologies, the Roadmap finds that the age assurance market is, at this time,
The Roadmap makes clear that a decision to mandate age assurance is not ready to be taken.
The Free Speech Coalitions warns porn websites about a new internet censorship law starting 1st September in Texas
|25th August 2023
See article from freespeechcoalition.com
The Texas age-verification and labeling law is scheduled to take effect September 1, 2023. While multiple age-verification laws have taken effect this year, Texas will join Louisiana in allowing direct government enforcement.
According to the law, the
Attorney General may fine a site with adult content $10,000 per day, and up to $250,000 if it fails to adequately verify the age of visitors and a minor is able to access it.
Additionally, the Texas law requires all adult sites to affix warning
messages to any page with adult content stating the supposed harms of viewing adult material. These 'warnings' are as follows:
TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES WARNING:
Pornography is potentially biologically addictive, is proven to harm human brain development, desensitizes brain reward circuits, increases conditioned responses, and weakens brain function.
to this content is associated with low self-esteem and body image, eating disorders, impaired brain development, and other emotional and mental illnesses.
Pornography increases the demand for prostitution, child exploitation,
and child pornography.
Free Speech Coalition and a collection of leading adult platforms have filed a legal challenge to the Texas law, including a motion for preliminary injunction. While we are hopeful the challenge will succeed, and that a decision will be
made prior to the start of enforcement, all members should be aware of the law and the risks of non-compliance. Alison Boden, Executive Director of Free Speech Coalition said:
This is a blatantly unconstitutional law,
but the stakes are high for individual adult businesses with websites accessible in the state of Texas. We urge every platform and creator to review their potential exposure to legal liability with their legal counsel.
Coalition has created landing pages for platforms that geo-block access to their sites from within the state of Texas , as it has in other states that have instituted
age verification. The page explains why the site is blocked, and provides an avenue for residents to contact their representatives. However, geo-blocking a state does not necessarily provide safe harbor from the law.
The law, including the
required age-verification methods and the legal warning stipulated, are available here .
Pornhub explains its policies in response to internet censorship laws enacted in several US states
|31st July 2023
See article from pornhub.com
Pornhub recently had to make the difficult decision to block access to users in Virginia and Mississippi due to newly passed Age Verification laws. These states have joined Utah and Louisiana where, earlier this year, similar laws were introduced. While
these new laws claim to protect children from accessing harmful material online -- something we fully support -- they not only fail to do this, but also jeopardize user safety and privacy.
What does age verification mean?
In the context of these laws, age verification requires users to prove that they are 18+ to view adult content.
There are multiple ways that a user can prove their age, but any effective method requires
them to submit some form of personally identifiable information ("PII"). By assigning this responsibility to the platform(s) visited by a user, this means submitting private information many times to adult sites all over the internet, while
normalizing disclosure of PII across the internet. This is not a privacy-by-design approach.
It also creates a substantial risk for identity theft. Since age verification software requires users to hand over extremely sensitive
information, it opens the door for the risk of data breaches. Whether or not your intentions are good, governments have historically struggled to secure this data. It also creates an opportunity for criminals to exploit and extort people through phishing
attempts or fake AV processes, an unfortunate and all too common practice.
Age verification is a good thing, if done correctly
Safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission. We firmly
believe age verification can make the internet a safer space for everyone, when it is done right. Unfortunately, the way these new laws are executed by lawmakers is ineffective and puts users' privacy at risk. Those seeking adult content will inevitably
end up on irresponsible sites that don't enforce safety, privacy, consent, or content moderation.
Back in January, we saw the outcome of this firsthand when Louisiana passed a similar law. Pornhub was one of a tiny handful of
websites to comply with the new state law requiring websites prevent minors from accessing them by employing age verification solutions.
The Louisiana law and other copycat state level laws have no regulator, only civil liability,
which results in a flawed enforcement regime, effectively making it an option for platform operators to comply. Consequently, traffic to Pornhub dropped by approximately 80% in Louisiana, but we know that people didn't stop consuming porn overnight
because of this new law. They just very easily moved to pirate, illegal, or other non-compliant sites that don't ask visitors to verify their age. Very few sites are able to compare to the robust Trust and Safety measures we currently have in place to
protect both the users viewing content on Pornhub from engaging with potentially dangerous content and provide a safe platform for creators to monetize their content and engage with fans. Most other sites unfortunately do not take these same extensive
measures towards community protection and without barrier to entry, is where viewers risk ending up. Therefore, these laws have not only failed at protecting children, but have introduced further harm by displacing traffic to sites with few or zero Trust
and Safety measures.
What you need to know -- a device-based solution
More of these laws are coming, and the safety of our users is one of our biggest concerns. However, the best and most effective
solution for protecting children and adults alike is to identify users at the source: by their device, or account on the device, and allow access to age-restricted materials and websites based on that identification. This means users would only get
verified once, through their operating system, not on each age-restricted site. This dramatically reduces privacy risks and creates a very simple process for regulators to enforce.
Who will these new laws affect?
These new laws will affect everybody differently. For example, Content Creators will get redirected to a separate login flow that will still allow them on the site to upload content. This is because, as verified users on Pornhub,
which is the required status for anyone wishing to upload, they have already verified their age with government issued ID using Yoti. However, for site visitors in Utah, Mississippi, and Virginia, they are greeted by a video featuring Cherie Deville who
explains why we had to make the difficult decision to block them from accessing Pornhub.
What is the ideal solution?
The only viable solution that will make the internet safer, preserve user privacy,
and stands to prevent children from accessing material harmful to minors is performing age verification at the source: on the device itself.
What can community members do?
To fight against
these haphazard and dangerous laws, we encourage all members of our community to stand up for your freedom to enjoy and consume porn privately. There are a few ways you can do this.
First, spread the message on social media. Using
your platform to raise awareness and to help your fans understand the implications of these poorly designed laws is the first step in making a change. Be loud, be vocal, and show how important it is for us to get this right. We believe the only way for
these laws to be effective is to have age verification on the devices used to access adult content.
Second, contact your local government and encourage your fans to do the same! Change begins when the public applies pressure and
contacts lawmakers. Write them letters or emails, call their offices, tweet at them, demand changes and demand answers. It is their job as civil servants to respond to concerned citizens. In your letters, you can request device-based age verification
solutions. By doing this, your safety and privacy, as well as the safety of your children, are protected much better than entering your ID every time you want to visit an adult website. In the meantime, share this blog widely to help spread the word!
And third, stay informed on legislative updates. Please check back often on the Free Speech Coalition AV page.
Don't give up! We know that normalizing sex work and sexual expression is an uphill battle, but it can be done. We must be vocal about it. Change begins with raising our voices, educating others, and engaging in these important
conversations on our socials to spread the message. For more information, visit the Free Speech Coalition
US judges uphold FOSTA censorship law banning websites from in any way supporting adult consensual sex work
See article from politico.com
A US federal appeals court has upheld key portions of a federal internet censorship law Congress passed to supposedly combat sex trafficking, but in reality censors all aspects of consensual adult sex work. However the court did reject some broad
readings of the statute that censor even debate about prostitution.
Advocates for legalizing prostitution, the operators of the Internet Archive website, Human Rights Watch and a massage therapist who said he lost business when Craigslist pulled many
categories of ads after passage of FOSTA in 2018 sued to block enforcement of the law.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that language in the 2018 Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act -- better known as FOSTA -- is not unconstitutionally vague
and doesn't violate free-speech rights. However, the court did slightly restrict the reach of the censorship, saying:
Judge Millett conceded that the language of the law could be seen as encompassing all sorts of conduct that arguably promotes or encourages prostitution. But she said the more limited reading
was justified in this instance.She said:
We therefore hold that [FOSTA's] mental state requirement does not reach the intent to engage in
general advocacy about prostitution, or to give advice to sex workers generally to protect them from abuse. Nor would it cover the intent to preserve for historical purposes webpages that discuss prostitution. Instead, it reaches a person's intent to aid
or abet the prostitution of another person.
Undoubtedly, the term 'facilitate' could be read more broadly. But nothing in [FOSTA] compels us to read 'facilitate' that way. Doubly so when a more expansive reading could raise
grave constitutional concerns.
The Government announces a new review that will surely be a one-sided affair inviting moralists and campaigners to whinge about porn
See press release from gov.uk
The UK government is reviewing porn censorship laws for adults, moving beyond the age verification requirements proposed in the current Online Censorship Bill.
No doubt the 'review' will be a one-sided whinge-fest soliciting the views of moralists,
censors and law enforcers, whilst totally ignoring the views of film makers and viewers.
The Government writes:
Regulation of online pornography in the UK will undergo a thorough review to make sure it is fit for purpose in
tackling exploitation and abuse, the government has announced today (Monday 3 July).
As the way we consume media and access content rapidly changes, the Review will investigate any gaps in UK regulation which allows exploitation
and abuse to take place online as well as identifying barriers to enforcing criminal law. While the criminal law has been updated in recent years to tackle the presence of extreme and revenge pornography, there are currently different regimes that
address the publication and distribution of commercial pornographic material offline, such as videos, and online. The government wants to ensure any pornography legislation and regulation operates consistently for all pornographic content.
The review will also look at how effective the criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies are in responding to illegal pornographic content, including considering if any changes need to be made to criminal law to address
challenges law enforcement might have.
It will also consider what more can be done to provide children with information and resources about the harm caused by pornography. This will make sure that illegal and harmful content, such
as that which features child sexual abuse and exploitation, or where adults are being exploited, is robustly dealt with.
The Pornography Review is a prompt response to calls for action from parliamentarians and campaign groups
concerned with the prevalence and impact on both children and adults of illegal pornographic content and child sexual exploitation and abuse on pornography sites and social media.
This work is separate to, but builds on, the
Online Safety Bill, which will hold social media companies and pornography services accountable for ensuring children cannot view pornography, with a new higher standard on the age verification or age estimation tools they must use.
Technology Minister, Paul Scully, said:
Keeping the public safe is the first priority of any government and with technology moving faster than ever, we cannot take our eye off the ball in exploring
what more we can do.
Our Pornography Review will look closely at the laws and regulations relating to offline and online content, informing our next steps in tackling the heinous crimes of exploitation and abuse,
wherever it occurs.
'Justice' Minister, Ed Argar, said:
It is vital we keep up with the pace of the online world and this review will help ensure our laws work to protect people online while
punishing those who share illegal and harmful content.
The Review will seek expertise across government and significant engagement with the Crown Prosecution Service and police, industry, civil society stakeholders
The review will also look at the role of the pornography industry in trafficking and exploiting adult performers, child sexual exploitation and abuse,Â and how extreme and non-consensual pornographic content
online is dealt with.
There are currently several criminal offences, linked to legislation such as the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the extreme porn offence at s63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008,Â which
can be committed in relation to all pornographic material,Â whether offline or online. Some pornographic material is covered by communications offences and offences which deal with publicly displayed material in shops and other premises.
Separately, there is a very robust regime of offences tackling the possession, taking and making of indecent images of children, whether they are photographs / films, or non-photographic.
There are also
different regulatory regimes, includingÂ that established by the Video Recordings Act 1984, which address the publication and distribution of commercial pornographic material offline, and the video-sharing platform regime that addressesÂ some
online pornography. Notes to editors
The Review will involve a range of government departments, including the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department for Culture,
Media and Sport.
Further scope of the Review will be set out in due course.
The Review is aiming to be completed within a year.
Fans will have to use a VPN to access Pornhub in Virginia
|1st July 2023
See article from
One of the most visited sites in the world, Pornhub, has blocked users in Virginia over the state's new age verification law.
The new law taking effect July 1 now requires websites with pornographic content being viewed in Virginia to verify that
users are at least 18 years old before they can view the site. The law, proposed by Republican state Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (Franklin), sailed through the Virginia General Assembly.
Pornhub decided that it would be blocking all Virginia users
rather than try to implement unsafe and privacy endangering age verification.
Pornhub wrote in a message to those attempting to log in:
The safety of our users is one of our biggest concerns. We believe that 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.
Until a real solution is
offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Virginia.'