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PornHub locked behind ID restriction

Mattheau Faught

PornHub disabled itself across the state of Texas, protesting the state’s demands for ID verification on adult entertainment platforms.

The state overturned a House Bill 1811 injunction filed by the adult entertainment industry, which stipulated ID verification on porn websites. When Texans log onto PornHub, they’ll encounter a statement on the website’s front page:

“Not only does [ID verification] impinge on the rights of adults to access protected speech, it fails strict scrutiny by employing the least effective and yet also most restrictive means of accomplishing Texas’ stated purpose of allegedly protecting minors,” the site reads.

Challengers of the bill have constantly raised privacy concerns; Texans have to exchange personal information for access.

“It’s an invasion of privacy,” Valeria Calvario, advanced manufacturing major, said. “The internet should be free — you should do what you want.”

Supporters of the bill pitched it as a measure to protect children in a digital age. Pornographic sites seldom ask users for information. In most circumstances, users can circumvent measures by simply lying about their age.

“A 5-year-old can just come in and go watch a porn site,” Eduardo Gutierrez-Estrada, construction management major, said.

While students are split on the narrative of protecting children, concerns about privacy are a constant on both sides.

“I’ve been supporting [ID verification] for a while now, but having the U.S. run it is a bad thing,” Guitierrez-Estrada said.

While the bill passed last year, several legal oppositions kept it from going into effect, and some amendments were removed through the process.

HB 1811 previously mandated porn sites to display health warnings stating porn is, “potentially biologically addictive, and is proven to harm brain development.” Further down the ladder, the warnings escalate by asserting porn “increases the demand for child prostitution, exploitation and child pornography.”

“The internet should be free, but now there needs to be restrictions, especially for kids,” Gutierrez-Estrada said. “They end up on websites they’re not supposed to.”

Another concern raised is the state’s relationship with a parent’s role in surveilling their children’s internet usage.

“Parents should supervise their kids more,” Eastfield student Alyssa Cornuaud said.

Despite a series of statements Lt. Gov. Ken Paxton made in favor of pornography restrictions, PornHub isn’t opposed to age verification; they support “safer” methods such as devices with age verification software installed.

“The parents should teach their kids more,” Gutierrez-Estrada said. “Nowadays, you just give them a phone and let them sit there the whole day.”

Texas is the latest state to implement a pornographic restriction, mimicking bills present in states such as Utah, Montana and Ohio. North Carolina kicked off the pattern by passing restriction laws last year. PornHub is currently blocked in these states.

For some Texans, the ban adds another step in obtaining pornography. Search interest in virtual private networks, or VPNs, exploded after the ban.

“If people feel inconvenienced, they shouldn’t be in that place anyway,” Cornuaud said. “They shouldn’t be exposed to these things early on.”

Some students shrugged off the prospect of a ban, noting there are always alternatives on the internet — pornographic material or not. 

“There’s laws for everything. There’s rules,” Gutierrez-Estrada said. “Some could be absurd, but there’s some things you need to do for safety, such as ID verification.”

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About the Contributors
Carmen Guzman
Carmen Guzman, Editor in Chief
Mattheau Faught
Mattheau Faught, Presentation Editor

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