Mehul Reuben DasJan 04, 2023 12:57:41 IST
Although we know that most governments have an idea of what exactly do we use the internet for, imagine what would it feel like to have your government issues ID associated with the fact that you watch porn online. The state of Louisiana has enacted a new law that would require all users who want to consume porn over the internet, to verify their age by submitting government-issued such as a driving licence, etc.
The new policy, coded as Louisiana HB 142, requires sites composed of “thirty-three and one-third per cent” or more of pornographic content to verify that people accessing them are 18 or older. As a result one of the most popular pornographic sites in the US, PornHub, has already started asking its users to share a government-issued ID for access in the state of Louisiana.
Although there has been no official statement from any of the regulatory bodies or the distributors of porn in the US, users took to Twitter to share screenshots of what they are getting when they are searching for some explicit content.
As of now, Pornhub has started asking users to verify their age with AllpassTrust, which works with the Louisiana digital ID service LA Wallet. Users have confirmed the report using a VPN service, adding that other adult sites like XVideos didn’t appear to require verification.
The state of Louisiana had passed the bill earlier last year and noted that it would go into effect from January 2023, and is being seen as a major, but severe step in cracking down on child pornography. Legislators in several US states have declared pornography a public health crisis, and some have taken largely symbolic steps to restrict it.
Lawmakers in the US have often complained about pornography being a public health crisis, but have never taken as solid a step as asking consumers to show their driving licenses. That is not to say that people aren’t enthusiastic about Louisiana’s new law.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has introduced a bill that would require age verification for adult sites at a federal level. Proponents who want users to submit their IDs to consume porn online have tried to assure that the data collected in this instance will only be used to verify one’s age and that neither services that collect those IDs nor the platforms where one consumes porn will have a record of their details. However, this is an unsubstantiated claim at best.
Age verification, however, hasn’t been easy and has proven problematic in the past. The biggest issue is that all such services, require a third-party service collecting sensitive information about the web browsing habits of an individual, and moreover, information that can be easily used by bad actors to cause some serious wreck, in case there’s a data leak. In 2022, the French data protection agency CNIL concluded that “there is currently no solution” for age verification that is sufficiently reliable, comprehensive, and privacy-friendly.
Then, there is also the difficulty in implementing such a verification programme. A user, who is intent on consuming porn, but does not want to share his or her details, can easily bypass the requirement to share their IDs, by using a VPN and logging on from a different location altogether.