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Kentuckians to lose access to Pornhub in less than a month

Pornhub informs users via a website pop-up that they are pulling access from Kentuckians due to recent legislation.
Sylvia Goodman
Pornhub informs users via a website pop-up that they are pulling access from Kentuckians due to recent legislation.

Pornhub alerted users this week that Kentuckians will lose access to the site due to age verification requirements on July 10.

When Kentuckians opened up the pornography video-sharing website Thursday, they were hit with a pop up. In all caps underneath a picture of the Kentucky flag, it read, “You will lose access to pornhub in 26 days.”

Earlier this year, Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill — following in the footsteps of several other red states — that requires pornography websites to verify that Kentucky users are more than 18 years old. Gov. Andy Beshear then signed the bill into law.

Check how your lawmakers voted on this bill and others on the 2024 Kentucky Legislative Vote Tracker.

The legislation, which will go into effect in mid-July, requires porn websites to verify ages using a state or federally-issued ID or methods that rely on “public or private transactional data” to verify age.

After the bill passed the Senate, Republican Sen. Gex Williams from Verona said he was aware that some sites chose to exit the state rather than comply with the requirements. In fact, he said, “we hope for this.”

The bill declares that porn is creating a “public health crisis” and has a “corroding influence” on kids. When a person opens Pornhub, an initial page already informs users that Pornhub is an “adult website.” Users are then required to affirm they are 18 or older to enter, but there are no additional verifications.

Sylvia Goodman

In a statement to Kentucky Public Radio, Pornhub’s parent company Aylo said they have long supported user age verification, but disagree with the methods required under the legislation.

“Any regulations that require hundreds of thousands of adult sites to collect significant amounts of highly sensitive personal information is putting user safety in jeopardy,” the company’s statement read. “Moreover, as experience has demonstrated, unless properly enforced, users will simply access non-compliant sites or find other methods of evading these laws.”

According to Aylo, Pornhub complied with a Louisiana law last year. Since then, their traffic dropped roughly 80%.

“These people did not stop looking for porn. They just migrated to darker corners of the internet that don't ask users to verify age, that don't follow the law, that don't take user safety seriously, and that often don't even moderate content,” the parent company said. “In practice, the laws have just made the internet more dangerous for adults and children.”

Aylo says it believes the age verification requirements put in place by the state legislature constitute a violation of privacy.

“We don’t want minors accessing our site and think preventing that from happening is a good thing,” the second pop-up says. “But putting everybody’s privacy at risk won’t achieve that.”

Aylo argues that device-based age verification is a better solution. That shifts the onus on operating systems to deny users access to age-restricted websites.

“This means users would only get verified once, through their operating system, not on each age-restricted site,” Aylo said in a release. “This dramatically reduces both privacy and data theft risks and creates a very simple process for regulators to enforce.”

The legislation also includes several ways in which users or parents can sue a website for failing to comply. A child or their parents could sue for $10,000 per incident in which a porn website doesn’t perform age verification. The bill also requires that the sites not hold onto personal identifying data, allowing people to sue for $1,000 for every day their data is stored by the website.

Websites that fall under the requirement include any that distribute material that is more than one-third “harmful to minors.”

Similar legislation has passed in a dozen other states since 2022, including Indiana, Florida and Idaho just this year, according to the The Free Speech Coalition, the trade association for the adult industry.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Aylo.

State government and politics reporting is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Lexington, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.

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