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Jan 3, 2024, 5:17pm EST
North America
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Pornhub blocks access for millions of users over ID row

Insights from The New York Times, The Verge, Mashable, and Time

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The News

Pornhub has blocked millions of users in Montana and North Carolina from accessing its pornography websites, instead of complying with new age verification laws introduced to protect children from exposure to adult content.

The site’s parent company Aylo, which also owns the sites RedTube, Brazzers and YouPorn, had already blocked access in five other states to avoid regulations that would force users to prove their age and identity every time they log on.

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Those attempting to access the sites now see a video of adult film star Cherie DeVille saying that “giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk.”

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Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

It’s possible to protect both children and free speech, observers say

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Sources:  
The Verge, Mashable, Futurism

As Pornhub comes under increased scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers, the EU has taken similar steps to force users to prove their age — but free speech advocates say there are better ways to restrict minors’ access to adult content that don’t cross the line into censorship. A director of the Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry lobby group, told Mashable that he recommends concerned parents use device-level filters to block all websites marked as “Restricted to Adults.” And adult performer Alana Evans told the outlet parents need to be involved in their children’s internet browsing and talk to their children about sex and porn – and other inappropriate content such as portrayals of violence. Some say ID restrictions don’t work anyway – in states like Louisiana, where Pornhub hasn’t blocked its service despite ID requirements, users have found workarounds aplenty.

Pornhub has also found itself in regulators’ crosshairs over illegal content

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Sources:  
The New York Times, The Verge, Time

Despite Pornhub’s assurances that few adult sites compare to its “robust trust and safety measures”, according to The Verge, its parent company last month was ordered by a federal court to pay a $1.8 million-fine plus victim compensation after acknowledging it profited from content depicting victims of sex trafficking. The federal government alleged that Aylo “turned a blind eye” to victims of sex trafficking and knowingly hosted content of women who were coerced into filming porn, ignoring messages that the videos were made without their consent. Aylo pleaded not guilty to any crime, Time reported, but under a deal known as a deferred prosecution agreement, it will have an independent monitor for three years to ensure it properly screens for illegal content.

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