Pornhub says adios to Texas

Its parent company has also blocked access to all its other adult entertainment websites.

Texas Attorney General on Facebook

If Pornhub were a cowboy, then it has just tipped its hat and ridden off into the sunset to leave Texas. It's now inaccessible in the state after the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that Texas can start enforcing its age verification regulations for porn websites. As 404Media reports, when you visit Pornhub or any other adult entertainment website owned by its parent company Aylo from within the state, you'll now get a message that begins with: "Dear user, as you may know, your elected officials in Texas are requiring us to verify your age before allowing you access to our website."

The message then explains that the practice would "impinge on the rights of adults to access protected speech" and that it's the "least effective and yet also most restrictive means of accomplishing Texas' stated purpose of allegedly protecting minors." Texas' age verification rules require porn website visitors to prove their age by providing a copy of one of their government IDs. Aylo said in its message that "providing identification every time you want to visit an adult platform is not an effective solution for protecting users online, and in fact, will put minors and your privacy at risk."

Texas governor Greg Abbott signed the age verification bill into law last year, but a group of porn websites that included Pornhub filed a lawsuit to block it a month later. A judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocked its immediate enforcement, ruling that the plaintiffs showed that they "will likely be violated if the statute takes effect" and that they will "suffer irreparable harm." However, the state's attorney general, Ken Paxton (pictured above), appealed the injunction. The court did strike down the law's requirement to "display health warnings about the effects of the consumption of pornography," but Paxton has clearly won the battle.

Pornhub's message for its Texas visitors is the same one it shows visitors from other states with similar age verification laws, including Utah, Montana, North Carolina and Mississippi. Last year, Aylo also started requiring Louisiana visitors to verify their identities through the state's digital driver's license wallet app, but most states don't have a comparable application that works with its system. "We believe that the only effective solution for protecting minors and adults alike is to verify users' age on their device and to either deny or allow access to age-restricted materials and websites based on that verification," Aylo explained in its message.

In a rather amusing yet expected turn of events, there was a spike in Google searches for "VPN" after the appeals court's ruling came out. As you might have guessed, Texas now tops the list of states for VPN searches, indicating that people are now looking for ways to circumvent Pornhub's shutdown in the region.