Pornhub, one of the most popular services in the world, owned by Aylo, has shut down its website in Texas (USA) in protest of the state’s law on online verification of users’ age. Now, instead of fun and incendiary content, Texans see only a message that the need to provide an ID to access a website “is not an effective solution to protect users online.”

Last year, more than one scandalous bill was passed in Texas – it is worth mentioning only the “Heartbeat Act”, which actually banned the termination of pregnancy from the word “at all”. HB 1181 (Age Verification Act), which was previously blocked and passed in 2023, is not so dramatic, but it also caused a storm in a glass of water. According to its requirements, users must upload photos of official IDs (or use another third-party identification service) before accessing Pornhub. Obviously, “not only everyone” wants to display their documents on a pornographic site.

In addition, Pornhub is required to reproduce warnings that “negatively affects the development of the human brain” (perhaps this explains the strange laws passed recently in the state of Texas). Of course, no one denies the harm from viewing such content by children or teenagers, and for adults, abuse may well lead to real problems in sexual and personal life – however, both direct and indirect prohibitions are unlikely to solve these problems, and even more so cannot prevent them. And, although Pornhub has repeatedly been involved in scandals due to the publication of videos with real rapes, child and intimate materials without the consent of the persons filmed on them, this did not affect its activities and profitability in any way.

In February 2024, the state of Texas sued Aylo, the parent company of Pornhub, for failing to comply with HB 1181. Pornhub simply shut down its site in Texas, leaving consumers with a dramatic message full of pain for their trampled rights.

As you may know, your elected officials in Texas require us to verify your age before allowing you to access our website. Not only does this violate adults’ rights to access protected speech, but it is also not subject to rigorous scrutiny, as it uses the least effective, but at the same time the most restrictive means to achieve Texas’ stated goal of supposedly protecting minors.

It is not known what protected word is referred to in this message – perhaps it is an allusion to freedom of speech; but, if so, it looks like Pornhub is about to face tough times in Europe as well. The fact is that, according to the EU Digital Services Act (DSA), Pornhub is included in the list of “very large platforms” (the criterion is an audience of more than 45 million users), which means that it is obliged to introduce additional methods of combating illegal and harmful content, including… with pornography, yes. Otherwise, fines for violations can reach 6% of the annual global turnover of the web service. In short, “Houston, we’ve got a problem!”

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