age verification

The Dangers of Age Verification

Invasive and ineffective age verification laws that require users show government-issued ID, like a driver's license or passport, are passing like wildfire across the U.S.
Two Texas IDs with the Pornhub homepage in the background.
Collage via 404 Media / Screenshot via Pornhub / IDs via

The fundamental flaw with the age verification bills and laws passing rapidly across the country is the delusional, unfounded belief that putting hurdles between people and pornography is going to actually prevent them from viewing porn. What will happen, and is already happening, is that people–including minors–will go to unmoderated, actively harmful alternatives that don’t require handing over a government-issued ID to see people have sex. Meanwhile, performers and companies that are trying to do the right thing will suffer.

One of our most ambitious and ultimately unrealized editorial projects when we were still at VICE was a comprehensive guide to ethical porn consumption, helping conscientious readers understand how to view porn that benefits sex workers and the health of the internet at large, rather than cause harm. It’s a complicated subject with shifting, not always perfect answers, and the more we worked on it the more it grew in scope.

It is still a complicated issue, but if you were to ask us the same question today with some urgency, we’d say that probably the best option is to find the adult performers you enjoy, and pay them directly for their product via a platform like OnlyFans or Fansly. To people who are not familiar enough with the industry, or are just not able or willing to pay for their porn, Pornhub is the other safe bet. That is no longer an answer we can give in seven states because of regressive age verification laws that have forced Pornhub and its entire network of sites to block itself from view in those states.

In Texas, Montana, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Utah, age verification laws require sites with more than one third adult content to force users to upload their driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID. Indiana and Idaho’s age verification laws will take effect on July 1, and bills are progressing in several more states.