Age verification prompts Pornhub to give Kansas the stiletto-heeled boot

Kansas’ adoption of age verification laws for pornography sites has sent Pornhub packing.

The famous worldwide smut peddler announced in a blog post the site will soon be inaccessible to five more states which either have introduced or will shortly require proof of age for its residents to view sex content sites. Though not included in the announcement, the reasoning most likely deals with additional liability to which Pornhub will be subject after the laws go into effect.

The blocking of Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Indiana and Idaho will go into effect in July, the company said. Blocks have already been engaged against Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, Montana, Utah, Mississippi and North Carolina, which also adopted the requirements for their citizens.

Emily Sanders

Kansas lawmakers approved the bill in April, keying its text around the functional legal term regarding content “harmful to minors” without attempting to define pornography. Governor Laura Kelly allowed it to become law without her signature, saying she had constitutional concerns about it.

“While well-meaning in its efforts to protect children from content the legislature considers ‘harmful to minors,’ this bill is vague in its application and may end up infringing

on constitutional rights, which is an issue being litigated in other jurisdictions over similar bills,” Kelly said. “For that reason, I will allow this bill to become law without my signature.”

The ease of access to Internet pornography has become a focal point of opposition to the industry in recent years both for its impact on viewers and on sex workers involved in the business. Emily Sanders, an 18 year-old Butler County Community college student from El Dorado and part-time online porn model, was murdered in 2007 by Israel Mereles, a Mexican national who was later apprehended in  Santa Rosa de MúzquizMúzquiz, Mexico.

Pornhub maintains that age verification poses privacy issues and increases risk for identity theft with the possible submission of ID documents to verification sites which could be breached. People signing up with the sites could be exploited or extorted by scammers using phishing methods, the company said. The blog post said the company already makes a priority of safety and compliance, but some sites where porn users may be going in Pornhub’s absence may not.

In 2017, members of the Kansas City Royals joined to make the team the first among MLB to go public with a stand denouncing pornography as a part of the anti-porn organization “Fight The New Drug.”

“Most other sites unfortunately do not take these same extensive measures towards community protection and without barrier to entry, is where viewers risk ending up,” Pornhub’s blog post said. “Therefore, these laws have not only failed at protecting minors but have introduced further harm by displacing traffic to sites with few or zero trust and safety measures.”

The Kansas law says the Kansas Attorney General’s office will designate a database or age-verification technology that must be used by any commercial entity circulating content “harmful to minors” on at least 25% of its webpages. Those found in violation may be the subject of lawsuits by the AG’s office with penalties up to $10,000 for each violation, or civil suits by parents or guardians of children of no less than $50,000

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.