New law prompts Pornhub to block access in Montana

New law prompts Pornhub to block access in Montana

Pornhub, one of the largest adult content websites, has blocked people in Montana from viewing the site ahead of the enforcement of a new state law that requires websites to verify the age of a person before they can access the site’s content.

Senate Bill 544, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Willis Curdy, revised the state’s laws related to material considered harmful to minors and the distribution of that material on the internet. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte on May 19 and the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

Part of SB 544 requires websites where a substantial portion is considered adult material to verify the person’s age before allowing access to the site. The law defines “reasonable age verification methods” as a government-issued ID or “any commercially reasonable method that relies on public or private transactional data to verify the age of the person attempting to access the information is at least 18 years of age or older.”

In a statement, Pornhub said it was specifically making the decision to block access at this time due to the government ID age verification requirement, saying, “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, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk.”

SB 544 passed with strong majorities in both houses of the Montana Legislature with members of both parties voting in favor. The Senate passed the bill 47 to 3, while the House passed it 84 to 13.

A similar law was enacted in Utah earlier this year, which drew national attention. In August, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Utah law that was filed in May by the Free Speech Coalition. The case is currently being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit.

This article was originally published by John Riley for Scripps News Helena.