Seven U.S. states are following Louisiana’s lead in mandating age verification to view online pornography. Florida, Arkansas, Kansas, South Dakota, West Virginia, Virginia, and Mississippi are all moving towards laws that would make it more difficult for minors to access explicit adult-oriented material. According to Free Speech Coalition, a non-profit adult entertainment industry trade association, the bills are “virtually identical” to the Louisiana bill.
The Louisiana law requires porn sites to verify a user’s age through an official state driver’s license but to store no user data. Sites not complying with the law will be held legally liable through actions the state attorney general is authorized to initiate.
NEW: A number of state legislatures move to enact age verification for pornography sites, often with bipartisan support. Louisiana was the first to enact such a law, and now similar efforts are underway in Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and elsewhere. https://t.co/0m5jbK47bL
— Jeremiah Poff (@JJ_Poff) February 15, 2023
In response, popular pornography site Pornhub has quickly implemented ID requirements from Louisiana users after the state legislature passed the law mandating age verification.
Many social conservatives consider restrictions on online porn as a priority to protect children. Numerous negative effects are highlighted as reasons to make it more difficult to access the material.
Websites such as Pornhub and OnlyFans require performers to prove their age and identity to crack down on nonconsensual content and child-endangering material (CSAM).
The Louisiana law defines “harmful content” as a variety of categories, including nudity and exhibitions of copulation, as well as other adult-oriented images and videos when the “material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.” Louisiana’s Act 440 requires online publishers to conduct age verification checks if their site’s content is more than 33.3% pornography.
Arkansas’ bill, the Protection of Minors from Distribution of Harmful Material Act, includes similar language, describing porn as a “public health crisis,” mirroring conservative anti-porn language.