Dubbed the “porn passport”, Virginia has passed age verification into law for under 18 year olds viewing pornography websites.
The legislation was adopted on July 1, 2023 stipulating that users in the state of Virginia must now follow Louisiana in proving they are over the age of 18 to access porn sites.
Responsibility falls on sites hosting pornography to implement processes that verify the users’ age. Access will only be granted if digital ID can be produced by users affecting mainstream services like PornHub.
The Free Speech Coalition are rallying against the law change and considering taken legal action while some critics have voiced the unfairness of using a state-issued ID like a driving license to access adult entertainment services. Privacy and security concerns have been raised as a risk of using national IDs for this purpose which will drive significantly more traffic.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that “surveillance” systems imposed privacy concerns, stating in March: “Once information is shared to verify age, there’s no way for a website visitor to be certain that the data they’re handing over is not going to be retained and used by the website, or further shared or even sold”.
Since the law passed, Pornhub has blocked users Mississippi and Virginia in protest of the age-restricting laws, claiming that traffic will drop by 80% permanently like in Louisiana earlier this year if the rules are implemented. Meanwhile PromHub argued that “irresponsible platforms” that flouted the rules would gain users. In May, the company took the drastic decision to “blackout” its services in Utah and across some of its sister websites such as RedTub.