Pornhub Has a Surprise for Utah

All residents are blocked, in the porn site's protest of state's new age-verification law
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2023 9:07 AM CDT
Pornhub Has a Surprise for Utah
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol on March 3 in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

On Wednesday, Utah's new age-verification law goes into effect, mandating that websites hosting adult content need to confirm users' ages before letting them browse. One company in particular isn't happy about the legislation: Pornhub, which shared a message Monday with anyone who tried to log on from the Beehive State, which was once dubbed America's "online porn capital" and has since declared porn a "public health crisis." Vice reports that, for those users, instead of being greeted by the pornography portal's homepage, they'll instead see a video from porn star Cherie DeVille, filling them in on why they're not gaining entry, due to the new law signed in March by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

"Until a real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Utah," DeVille says in the clip, adding that "giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for protecting our users." She notes that, without enforcement of the new rule, some sites will comply and some won't, and users will just end up flocking to sites with fewer guardrails. "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," DeVille says.

Axios notes that Pornhub owner MindGeek also posted DeVille's message on some of its other adult sites, including Brazzers and YouPorn. Affected companies that don't adhere with Utah's new law can be held liable if a minor accesses their site and a lawsuit is brought. Experts note, however, that, in addition to not offering great protection for kids, age verification also makes adult users who hand over their ID vulnerable to identity theft, extortion, and hacking, per Vice. Pornhub has already started doing age verification in Louisiana; Mississippi, Arkansas, and Virginia have passed similar legislation, per the Salt Lake Tribune. (Read more Pornhub stories.)

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