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USA

Access to porn blocked for a million Americans

Access to Pornhub, one of the world’s largest adult video sharing sites, has been blocked across Montana. This follows a new law requiring people in the state to verify their age to access pornographic material online.

The decision was made by Pornhub itself, which said that requiring identity verification to view its content would “put children and your privacy at risk.” As a result, the website is no longer accessible to Montana’s more than 1.1 million residents, the latest estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau.

A number of states have taken steps to prevent children from accessing pornography in the past two years, although this has sparked controversy and legal disputes over privacy and free speech.

Montana Senate Bill 544, which was signed into law by state Governor Greg Gianforte in May and takes effect January 1, 2024, requires age verification for websites containing a substantial portion of material reserved for adults.

It states that “reasonable age verification methods” to prove that an individual is at least 18 years old include “a government-issued identification document” or “any commercially reasonable method that relies on data public or private transactional methods to verify the age of the person trying to access the site. the information is at least 18 years of age or older. For the website to contain a substantial amount of pornographic material, it must constitute “more than 33 1⁄3% of the total material on a website”, meeting the definition of “material harmful to minors”, as defined by the law.

In a statement provided to local network KTVQ, Pornhub said the decision to block access from Montana was made specifically in response to the identification requirement. The company said: “While security 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 to protect our users and, in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk. »

Senate Bill 544 was introduced by Senator Willis Curdy, a Democrat, and passed the chamber in a bipartisan vote of 47-3. It was later approved by the Montana House of Representatives , by 84 votes to 13, before being promulgated by the Republican governor of the state.

News week contacted Senator Curdy and Governor Gianforte for comment via email on Saturday.

A Pornhub logo is displayed at the company’s booth during the 2018 AVN Adult Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company blocked access from Montana in response to a new age verification law.
Gabe Ginsberg/GETTY

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge David Ezra struck down Texas House Bill 1181, a law signed by state Governor Greg Abbott in June requiring age verification to view adult websites, after that the legislation was challenged by the Free Speech Coalition.

In his ruling, Ezra said the legislation “chills speech for plaintiffs and adults who wish to access sexual materials” and “significantly regulates protected speech, is seriously underinclusive, and uses overly restrictive enforcement methods.” An appeal was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.

Earlier this month, an attempt to sue Netflix over child pornography charges was rejected by the Texas 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a lower court’s injunction. The controversy comes from the French film The cuties, which sparked outrage when it was first released in 2020.