PornHub blocks North Carolina, Montana over new age verification laws

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Adult media giant Aylo has blocked access to many of its websites, including PornHub, to visitors from Montana and North Caroline as new age verifications laws go into effect.

This move also impacts other adult sites owned by the company, including Tube8, RedTube, and Brazzers.

As of January 1st, new age verification laws went into effect in Montana and North Carolina that require adult websites to verify the age of visitors from those states. 

Under these new laws, failure to use reasonable age verification services could cause the company to be liable to lawsuits from individuals.

“A commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of the material must be held liable if the entity fails to perform reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of individuals attempting to access the material,” reads Montana’s Bill 544.

An amendment to North Carolina’s House Bill 8 also contains similar language, warning that parents could bring a civil action against the companies.

Similar age verification bills were adopted in Utah, Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas over the past year, with a federal judge later striking down Texas’ bill.

Visiting Aylo sites from one of these states now display a video with adult film star Cherie DeVille reading an enclosed statement from Aylo.

“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,” reads a portion of Aylo’s statement.

“In addition, mandating age verification without proper enforcement gives platforms the opportunity to choose whether or not to comply. As we’ve seen in other states, this just drives traffic to sites with far fewer safety measures in place. Very few sites are able to compare to the robust Trust and Safety measures we currently have in place. To protect children and user privacy, any legislation must be enforced against all platforms offering adult content.”

These laws have been shown to push people in impacted states to purchase VPNs to bypass restrictions by adult sites.

The R Street think tank says this could cause adult sites to block VPN traffic as they could still be liable under state laws.

“For example, in order to ensure perfect compliance with Utah’s law, platforms would have to treat all VPN users as Utah residents or block VPNs completely,” reads an article on R Street.

“Not only does the law not specifically exempt VPN traffic, it says that a ‘social media company shall not permit a Utah minor account holder to change or bypass restrictions on access as required by this section.'”

However, this could lead users to switch to less-known, and likely riskier, VPN products that are not as well detected but may bring additional risk.

Last month, fake Chrome VPN browser extensions were found installed 1.5 million times to hijack users’ search results with affiliate links.

Threat actors are also known to use fake VPN applications to push information-stealing malware and mobile backdoors, putting the user’s accounts at risk.

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