Louisiana residents will now need a government ID to access porn online

Pornhub is already asking visitors to verify their ages using their drivers licenses.

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We're now in the first week of 2023, and that means different things for different people, such as taking another stab at a New Year's resolution that's been on the list forever or getting started on a plan to reach a goal before the year ends. For Louisiana residents, it also means having to verify their ages if they want to access porn online.

A new state law (PDF, courtesy of Motherboard) went into effect on January 1st, requiring websites containing "a substantial portion" of "material harmful to minors" to ask users to prove that they're 18 or older. "Substantial portion," according to the new law, is more than 33.3 percent of a website's content. As Gizmodo notes, Pornhub, Youporn and Redtube have already started asking visitors to verify their age.

Websites that host content that can be considered porn have to implement "reasonable age verification methods," including asking users to present a government-issued ID or a digitized form of it. Pornhub, Youporn and Redtube had chosen to ask visitors to prove their age by using their LA Wallet app, which is the state's digital wallet app for drivers licenses. A video posted on Twitter shows how Pornhub uses the app to check for a user's age.

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In the document detailing the law, its authors said: "Due to advances in technology, the universal availability of the internet, and limited age verification requirements, minors are exposed to pornography earlier in age. Pornography contributes to the hyper sexualization of teens and prepubescent children and may lead to low self-esteem, body image disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages, and increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behavior. Pornography may also impact brain development and functioning, contribute to emotional and medical illnesses, shape deviant sexual arousal, and lead to difficulty in forming or maintaining positive, intimate relationships, as well as promoting problematic or harmful sexual behaviors and addiction."

Speaking to TechCrunch, Olivia Snow, sex worker and research fellow at UCLA's Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, described the need for verification to access porn as "surveillance." She also said that it can harm LGBTQ populations in extreme cases: "As homophobia and transphobia — especially homophobia in the context of porn — is rising, I could totally see the state zeroing in on people consuming gay porn, or lesbian porn, and either surveilling them further or criminalizing that." Critics are also raising security and privacy concerns about having to present IDs to access porn online even if Pornhub promises that one's "proof of age does not allow anyone to trace [their] online activity."