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Pornhub blocks access in Mississippi in response to new law

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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

A bill requiring strict age verification rules for adult websites in the state has become law. 

Senate Bill 2346 became official on July 1, meaning websites considered pornographic or "obscene" must now have strict age verification processes or face a fine from the attorney general. 

Lacey Alexander

Pornhub blocks access in Mississippi in response to new law


Pornhub — one of the largest and most well-known adult content websites in the U.S. — has banned Mississippi users from accessing its content in response. 

Dylan McLemore is an associate professor of communications at the University of Central Arkansas. He says bills like these raise questions about first amendment rights.

“The Supreme Court has consistently found a right to both anonymous speech and anonymous association,” he said.” Mississippi's only focus is on what they consider to be pornographic websites, but there's other states that have applied this to just general social media usage that could be problematic because it is eliminating your ability to be anonymous online.”  

Websites with at least a third of their content considered "obscene" are subject to the law. McLemore says a standard called "The Miller Test" is used to define obscenity, and these two factors mean social media websites are likely safe from the new policy.

“You think of all of the posts… all the videos that are on YouTube,” he said, “all the posts that are on Instagram, finding enough content that reaches that narrow definition of obscenity to also cross that 33-and-a-third percent threshold of the entire content on the platform seems very unlikely.”

A similar law was recently passed in neighboring state Louisiana, but a government website handles age verification for these sites. Mississippi requires the website in question to collect the information via driver's license. 

Those that try to access Pornhub from an IP address in Mississippi are directed to a page with a video of adult film actress Cherie Deville and a few paragraphs of text explaining the website’s decision.

“We are sorry to let our loyal visitors in these states down but we have opted to comply with the newly effective law in this way because it is ineffective and worse, will put both user privacy and children at risk.” Pornhub said in a tweet.

“Until a real solution is offered, we’ve made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in your region.” Deville says in the video. Utah and Virginia, which both recently passed similar laws, are also affected.