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Pornhub blocks Utah in protest of new age-verification law

Pornhub, one of the largest adult content websites on the internet, has blocked Utahans from viewing the site in an apparent protest of a new law.
Pornhub blocks Utah in protest of new age-verification law
Posted at 12:17 PM, May 04, 2023

Pornhub, one of the largest adult content websites on the internet, has blocked Utahans from viewing the site in an apparent protest of a new law forcing stricter age-verification measures.

Website visitors from Utah started noticing the block on Monday morning. At first, Pornhub posted "403 | This state is not whitelisted." 403 is a computer code for a forbidden site. Later in the day, the site was changed to a lengthy message to users notifying them why they were blocked.

"As you may know, your elected officials in Utah are requiring us to verify your age before allowing you access to our website. While safety 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 for protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk," the site's message read. 

Pornhub insisted it had robust trust and safety measures to prevent children from accessing its adult content, and the actions the state of Utah required had no proper enforcement.

"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 Utah."

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The site's message urged viewers to contact elected lawmakers to demand "solutions that make the internet safer while respecting your privacy."

Pornhub is protesting Senate Bill 287, which unanimously passed the legislature this year. It requires adult content websites to use age-verification systems before someone can view them. The bill allowed for third-party or other systems to do as such. The bill is similar to one passed by Louisiana's state legislature."Utah's age-verification law goes into effect on May 3, but there's no clear way to comply with it — Utah's digital ID does not currently allow online verification — so many adult sites are just planning to block all visitors from the state, as they did in Louisiana. Many of our members are concerned about the way SB287 was rushed through, with little attention to the technology or how it would be executed. We're already seeing incidents of identity theft in Louisiana related to the law, and expect the same in Utah," said Mike Stabile, a spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition, the trade group representing the adult entertainment industry.

Stabile said he was unaware if any other adult websites would be blocking Utah.

The sponsor of SB287, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, told Scripps News Salt Lake City in a text message he thinks that Pornhub could comply with the new law.

"They are complying with [Louisiana]'s law, which is essentially the same. So I expect they will eventually comply with Utah's as well," he wrote. 

Pornhub and other sites previously protested a law the Utah State Legislature passed in 2020 requiring adult websites to have a warning label with an opt-in message, arguing it was unconstitutional. But ultimately, many of the sites started putting up the warning labels to Utah visitors.

This story was originally published by Ben Winslow for

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