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Pornhub attacks states for passing “unsafe” age-verification laws



Starting today, Pornhub visitors in Virginia, Mississippi, and Arkansas will see a “very important message” on the adult website’s homepage. Pornhub’s public service announcement prompts visitors to contact representatives and oppose recently passed age-verification laws in these states that Pornhub claims puts children and all users’ privacy at risk. If users don’t support Pornhub before laws go into effect, the company says, Pornhub could potentially restrict access in these states—a threat it already followed through on in Utah.

In the PSA, adult entertainer Cherie Deville tells Pornhub users that instead of states requiring ID to access adult content, “the best and most effective solution for protecting children and adults alike is to verify users’ age at a device level and allow or block access to age-restricted materials and websites accordingly.”

According to CNN, this PSA is part of a larger effort by Pornhub and its private equity owners, Ethical Capital Partners (ECP), to work with big tech companies to create new device-based age verification solutions. So far, ECP partner Solomon Friedman told CNN that ECP has lobbied Apple, Google, and Microsoft to “develop a technological standard that might turn a user’s electronic device into the proof of age necessary to access restricted online content.”

ECP, Apple, Google, and Microsoft did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Pornhub is not commenting beyond the PSA, but a spokesperson told Ars that Pornhub supports age verification laws that don’t put user safety and privacy at risk.


Currently, Pornhub is complying with a Louisiana law requiring an ID to access the site, but Pornhub’s spokesperson said Pornhub was one of the few adult entertainment sites to do so. As a result of complying, Pornhub’s Louisiana traffic dropped by approximately 80 percent as adult content seekers presumably chose to visit sites that do not require ID. This makes the Internet more unsafe, Pornhub argues, by shuffling users away from sites with safety measures in place to dark corners of the web.

“As we’ve seen in other states where similar laws have passed, this just drives activities to other sites with far fewer or even no safety measures in place,” Deville said. “This clearly demonstrates that poorly executed age verification solutions only make the Internet more unsafe.”

Pornhub reported that Louisiana users have already experienced identity theft as a result of the age verification law there. That’s a big part of why Pornhub sees device-based age verification as a preferred solution, compared to submitting IDs or requiring facial scans—which forces all compliant adult sites to collect sensitive data that could be leaked and harm users.

“Giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for age verification,” Deville warned. “In fact, it will put children and your privacy at risk.”

While Friedman told CNN that ECP’s talks with tech companies to create more effective device-based solutions are only in “early stages,” Deville suggested that acceptable device-based solutions already exist and could be leveraged.

“Many devices already offer free and easy-to-use parental control features that can prevent kids from accessing adult content without risking the disclosure of your sensitive data,” Deville said.

But critics told CNN that there’s one obvious flaw of device-based age verification: Minors could simply access adult content by using an adult’s device, especially since families and households frequently share devices.


Source: Ars Technica

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