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Utah Pornhub block leaves fans scrambling for VPNs

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The porn star at the heart of Pornhub’s content block in Utah has called for minors to be given phones and computers that block all adult content, instead of porn sites having to implement more stringent age verification processes.

Cherie DeVille, whose work is available on Pornhub (unless you’re in Utah), wrote an essay for Rolling Stone after Pornhub blocked access to its main content in the state, citing the introduction of Utah’s new age verification law as the reason. The state saw a spike in online searches for virtual private networks (VPNs) after the block kicked in on May 1, 2023.

The new Utah law, S.B. 287, requires porn companies to undertake “reasonable” age verification checks on users, to ensure that they are aged 18 or over before accessing a site’s sexually explicit content. The law indicates that users should use government ID, or use a certified third-party age verification app, to do this every time they access a porn site.

Now, when you visit Pornhub from within Utah, instead of hardcore porn videos you see a video of DeVille explaining the ban. She says in the video: “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… in fact, [it] will put children and your privacy at risk.”

DeVille suggested that it was laughable that minors would not be able to circumnavigate the law with VPNs, which are used to ‘trick’ your computer or other electronic device into acting like it’s in a location different to your real location.

She wrote: “Grown-ass men are struggling to get around my PSA [public service announcement], but I assure you teenage boys are not: Teens are techies, and they understand how to use a VPN to evade any current content restrictions.”

DeVille, pictured above, added: “There’s an easy solution to this problem: we need smartphones and computers specifically created for minors which block all forms of adult content, not just porn. If parents gave their children these devices, they would know that their kids weren’t looking at porn, even when they’re busy at work.”

She said that Pornhub supported this potential solution, adding: “Adult entertainment companies and porn performers hate minors watching our content. We also understand the internet better than anyone. After all, everything from streaming to chatbots to video chats began with our industry. Why not listen to our solutions instead of those of old politicians who’ve never heard of VPNs?”

Utah State Senator Todd Weiler said that he believed that Pornhub would “eventually comply” with the new law. From March 2024, Utah will introduce a law requiring all social media companies to very the ages of users, to ensure that they are 18 or over, or have a parent’s permission to use social media.

Porn safety crackdowns are also occurring in the UK, where the proposed Online Safety Bill will add greater legal accountability to porn and social media sites. Critics are concerned that it will erode free speech and privacy—and, of course, it won’t achieve its aims at stopping underage users from viewing adult material, as we’ve been pointing out since 2016.

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