Published on: January 13, 2023
Louisiana has issued a law — Act 440 — that requires websites with adult content to verify the age of its visitors. The means of verification can be a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.
The bill was proposed by Rep. Laurie Schlegel (R-LA), and Gov. John Bel Edwards approved it in June 2022. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year before the law came into the limelight.
“Any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material shall be held liable if the entity fails to perform reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of individuals attempting to access the material,” the bill reads.
According to the act, “substantial portion” refers to “more than thirty-three and one-third percent 25 of total material on a website.” Therefore, any website with over 33.3 % of adult material would require age verification. Right now, there’s no explanation of how this percentage is determined or why websites with less than 33.3 % of adult content are safe for children to access.
The bill also goes on to highlight the dangers of porn to society, stating that it “contributes to the hyper-sexualization of teens and prepubescent children” and that it may lead to “increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behavior.”
It further explains that pornography can “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.”
While the law explicitly mandates that “any commercial entity or third party that performs the required age verification shall not retain any identifying information of the individual,” there are still major concerns about privacy, especially when there is no guarantee that the user data from the age verification process won’t be shared.
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