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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE CLOSURE: UPDATES, RESOURCES, AND CONTEXT

Pornhub blocks access in North Carolina after new age verification law

Pornhub, the world's most popular free porn website, says a new state law — enacted on Jan. 1, 2024 — actually reduces safety. Pornhub has blocked access in North Carolina completely.
Mitchell Northam
/
WUNC
Pornhub, the world's most popular free porn website, says a new state law — enacted on Jan. 1, 2024 — actually reduces safety. Pornhub has blocked access in North Carolina completely.

A new North Carolina state law took effect on Jan. 1 that requires pornography websites to proactively verify the age of users before allowing them access to the site.

The move prompted the most highly trafficked pornography website in the world — Pornhub — to instead block access to its content around North Carolina. In a video on the site, adult performer Cherie DeVille said the new law will actually lead to less online safety.

"Mandating age verification without proper enforcement gives platforms the opportunity to choose whether or not to comply," DeVille said. "As we've seen in other states, this just drives traffic to sites with far fewer safety measures in place."

The new rule was passed last session through an amendment to House Bill 8 and was called the "Pornography Age Verification Act" or "PAVE Act." Supporters include N.C. Family Policy Council, a faith-based group that advocates for Biblical ideals in public policy. The group calls online pornography a "public health epidemic" that can "fuel violence and abuse" and hurt relationships.

Council President John Rustin said he agrees that enforcement of the law will drive its effectiveness, but that passing a strong law must happen for strong enforcement to follow.

"Clearly there's more that needs to be done than just the passage of laws. But the passage of these laws is an important step," Rustin said.

Pornhub argued that giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for "protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk." Instead, it argues age verification should be tied to devices, and allow access to age-restricted material that way.

Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.