The Supreme Court bolsters age verification rules for porn sites from Mashable

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The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with the states in a case questioning the constitutionality of age verification requirements for adult entertainment sites.

On April 30, the court justices dismissed an emergency appeal that sought to block age verification mandates outlined in Texas House Bill 1181. The bill outlines fines and liability for site owners that allow minors to visit their pages, including a $10,000 minimum and $250,000 maximum fine per violation by a minor. The appeal was filed by the Free Speech Coalition, an adult entertainment industry advocacy group.

Age verification bills, also known as “porn passport” laws, require sites that host certain percentages of adult content to institute commercial age-verification systems (AVS’s) to keep minors out. These gates require users to provide government-issued identification to prove that they are over 18. In the eyes of proponents, clicking “I am over 18-years-old” isn’t enough.

The Texas bill applies to sites in which “one third” of its posted content contains “sexual material harmful to minors,” but other states outline a variety of rules and regulations. A Utah bill mandates an AVS for sites with a “substantial amount” of pornographic content. Virginia’s statute mandates the verification of government-issued IDs or biometric scans, or require users to age verification software for adult sites with “harmful” content. In the Texas case and others, states have also inserted requirements that adult sites post warnings to users, including that porn can be addictive.

Beyond the outcry from free speech groups and adult entertainment industry investors, which call such requirements a form of “intrusive government oversight,” experts generally believe age verification bills won’t work. “These statutes are difficult to enforce and easy to get around,” Mashable’s Anna Iovine reported last year, amid a wave of state bills. “These bills…can cascade into an online privacy and censorship nightmare that hurts sex workers and other internet users.”

Experts worry such a cascade of state-level laws, all with sporadically decided requirements, would push young people onto more harmful and dangerous sites, open up users to threats of identify theft, and set a precedent for a less accessible internet. Others say its not the most effective way to protect children from explicit content online.

Beyond, age verification bills have been suggested by Big Tech leaders as a solution to a variety of digital concerns, including the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The post The Supreme Court bolsters age verification rules for porn sites from Mashable appeared first on Tom Bettenhausen’s.

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