A controversial age verification for accessing pornographic adult content online has gone into effect in Louisiana, requiring people in the state accessing porn sites to use a digital driver’s license app to prove they aren’t minors.
The law, HB142, requires any site that’s content is comprised of 33.3 percent or more pornographic material to verify each user’s age, usually by using LA Wallet: a digital driving license app used in Louisiana. The law has been criticized for not clarifying how the 33.3 percent figure is calculated.
It has been suggested by some legal experts that the law is unlikely to be rigorously implemented. However, Boing Boing reported that Pornhub users in Louisiana had been presented with pop-ups asking for age verification when they attempted to access the site from Sunday (January 1, 2023): the day the law came into effect in the state.
HB142 kicks into action at a time when many are concerned about toughening laws and regulations regarding age and consent verification in the online porn industry. Many are worried that sex workers relying on porn sites for income will suffer if these sites are more difficult to access for both users and performers.
Laurie Schlegel, a Republican Louisiana House of Representatives member, sponsored the law and has been touting it in the media.
She told WAFB9 that porn was “destroying our children and they’re getting unlimited access to it on the internet and so if the pornography companies aren’t going to be responsible, I thought we need to go ahead and hold them accountable.”
Schlegel added that “there will be consequences for those who fail to follow the law.”
There is further concern among the porn industry and online sex workers that a similar national law will be passed in the US.
Porn sites have come under increasing pressure in the US from financial organizations as well as toughening laws. Companies such as Visa and Mastercard have cut ties with major porn sites such as Pornhub.
Age Verification Beyond the US
Louisiana, California, or indeed the US in entirety isn’t alone in mulling stricter age verification rules. The UK, for example, has long been considering how to implement new online rules, while France, Germany and some other countries have already threatened to start blocking access to some of the largest sites for not implementing more robust verification measures.
Beyond Europe and the US, a porn ban proposal in South Africa also resurfaced, while Iraq went ahead and just blocked access to all pornographic sites for everyone, following years of faltering censorship.
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