Mar 14, 2023 - News

Virginia bill could require proof of age to visit porn sites

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An under-the-radar bill could require strict age verification to access porn sites in Virginia.

Why it matters: Be prepared to digitally show a government ID to get past the prompt — a reality that's raising concerns among privacy advocates.

What's happening: The legislation, proposed by Sen. Bill Stanley, a Republican from Franklin, passed with almost unanimous support.

Zoom out: Lawmakers in Mississippi and Utah have passed similar laws, and more than a dozen other states are considering them, per the Free Speech Coalition, an industry group representing the porn industry.

What they're saying: “What we’ve had is the unfettered wild, wild west ability of these pornography sites, such as YouPorn and Pornhub, to have someone who accesses their site without restriction to age,” Stanley said, per the Virginia Mercury.

The other side: The adult industry argues location-based age checks are easily circumvented by using a VPN. And they say requirements to upload sensitive government documents opens users to data breaches and other privacy risks.

  • Instead, they say they support device-level restrictions set by parents and schools.

What's next: The bill is on Gov. Glenn Youngkin's desk awaiting action.

  • "The governor continues to review the legislation and remains supportive of measures to protect minors," Youngkin's spokeswoman, Macaulay Porter, said.
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