You Now Need a Government ID to Access Pornhub in Louisiana

Viewing Pornhub while in Louisiana now requires providing a driver's license to verify your age.
the louisiana capitol building
Louisiana's capitol building. Getty images

A new law makes porn sites liable for content deemed “harmful to minors” if it doesn’t install age verification technology for anyone accessing them in Louisiana—and it’s already affecting how people in the state access Pornhub. 

The law, which was signed by Louisiana’s Democratic governor John Bel Edwards in June, became effective on January 1, 2023. 

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The law, passed as Act 440, states: 

“Any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material shall be held liable if the entity fails to perform reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of individuals attempting to access the material.”

A “substantial portion” is 33.3 percent or more material on a site that’s “harmful to minors.” 

Material that’s harmful to minors, according to the act, is defined as appealing to prurient interests, and that consists of “pubic hair, anus, vulva, genitals, or nipple of the female breast; Touching, caressing, or fondling of nipples, breasts, buttocks, anuses, or genitals; Sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation; flagellation, excretory functions, exhibitions, or any other sexual act,” and lacks “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” for someone under 18 years of age. 

It also states that any commercial entity in violation will be liable “to an individual for damages resulting from a minor's accessing the material.” 

Motherboard confirmed, through a virtual private network, that Pornhub is showing people visiting the site from a Louisiana-based IP address a page that requires identity verification before entering. “Louisiana law now requires us to put in place a process for verifying the age of users who connect to our site from Louisiana,” the page says.

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Screenshot of Pornhub's homepage from a Louisiana-based VPN

When Motherboard tested the verification, Pornhub directed us to AllPassTrust, a third-party identity verification site, which connects to LAWallet, a digital driver’s license for Louisianans. Pornhub guarantees that Pornhub doesn’t connect data during this process. 

Other major adult sites, including XVideos and XHamster, are still accessible from Louisiana as normal. OnlyFans’ site hangs on the loading page that only displays its logo when accessed from a Louisiana IP, and eventually times out before loading the site. Pornhub, OnlyFans, XHamster, and XVideos did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

It was introduced by Representative Laurie Schegel, who recently supported legislation that banned transgender athletes from competing on girls and women's sports teams in Louisiana. According to local news outlet WAFB, Schegel also works as a counselor who sees patients for “sex addiction” treatment. 

“Pornography is destroying our children and they’re getting unlimited access to it on the internet and so if the pornography companies aren’t going to be responsible, I thought we need to go ahead and hold them accountable,” Schlegel told WAFB. Sex addiction as a diagnosis is highly contentious among clinicians; there’s no evidence that sex addiction affects one’s brain in the same ways that addiction to substances does, for example. Online porn and sex addiction have been controversial topics for decades, and it’s been blamed, erroneously, for everything from mass shootings to sexual assault

Similar age verification proposals have been made in Australia, as well as in the UK, where the Online Safety Bill has been debated, modified, killed and revived since 2021. Sex workers have denounced this and similar attempts at over-broad age verification are harmful to their livelihoods and represent an attack on the industry as a whole. 

In December, Republican Sen. Mike Lee from Utah introduced the Interstate Obscenity Definition Act (IODA), which seeks to “establish a national definition of obscenity that would apply to obscene content that is transmitted via interstate or foreign communications,” as well as the Shielding Children’s Retinas from Egregious Exposure on the Net, or SCREEN Act, which would require porn sites to use age verification technology. Advocates for the adult industry say that Lee’s proposed act and those like it are part of a broader push to censor sexual speech online.