MASHABLE - Recently, age-verification bills for porn sites have been making headlines, but experts argue that they won't work and may even harm online privacy and free speech. Instead, they suggest better ways to protect children online. Age-verification bills, such as Louisiana's Act 440 and Utah's SB 287, require visitors to sites with a significant portion of adult content to prove their age using a commercial age-verification system (AVS). Utah has also passed two other bills, SB 152 and HB 311, which require age verification for all users on social media sites; parental permission to access social media for those under 18; and social media curfews for under-18s. These are supposed to go into effect in March 2024, but social media platforms are expected to challenge these laws beforehand. Despite good intentions, these bills have numerous issues:
- Difficult to enforce: Websites based in other countries may not comply, and users can easily bypass restrictions with VPNs.
- Privacy risks: Intrusive and ineffective AVSs may expose people's private information and browsing habits.
- Domino effect: If multiple states adopt different verification methods, it could lead to a complex and restrictive system affecting everyone online.
These bills could also negatively impact adult content creators, who already face censorship and loss of income due to similar legislation like FOSTA-SESTA. Instead of relying on age-verification bills, experts recommend parents take a more proactive approach to protect children from adult content.