SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — has denied Utah residents access to their site as a response to the state’s new age verification laws which go into effect today, May 2.

Utahns who attempt to go to the site today will instead be driven to a black page with a statement from the site’s management and a short video featuring adult actress Cherie DeVille explaining why the site cannot be accessed.

Earlier this year, the Utah legislature and Gov. Spencer Cox passed and signed Senate Bill 287, which requires adult sites to use some sort of age-verification system to keep underage viewers from seeing pornographic content. The bill passed unanimously.

The bill was based, in part, on a similar piece of legislation passed in Louisiana. The main difference, however, is that unlike Louisiana, Utah’s digital ID system does not currently allow for online verifications.

Pornhub’s arguments

Pornhub, for its part, argues in its statement 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.”

Statement from on May 2, 2023 explaining why all Utahns are blocked from the site.
Statement from on May 2, 2023 explaining why all Utahns are blocked from the site.

As of this writing, it’s unclear how Pornhub would be able to verify IDs at all without obtaining and storing vital private information about users. The site also argues that its current safety measures are stronger than most sites, and its statement seems to cast doubt on the State of Utah to actually enforce its own law.

The site argues that by keeping people from accessing Pornhub, they will be driven instead to sites that simply choose not to comply with the law and that may, in fact, be more dangerous for children and adults alike.

Instead, the adult entertainment giant says verification should be done on a device-by-device basis instead of collecting government IDs, though their statement does not explain how they would achieve this.

“Until a real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Utah,” said DeVille.

It’s easy to get around the block

Neither SB 287 nor Pornhub has acknowledged that the new law can be very easily skirted by children and adults by using a virtual private network, or a VPN. VPNs allow users to basically shield their device’s web address by making that device appear to be in a different country. Part of the marketing for many commercial VPNs is centered on the idea that you can, for instance, watch shows on overseas streaming services that you can’t watch in America.

Simply going to a social media site like Reddit and searching a term like “pornhub block vpn” brings up numbers of posts from not only across America, but several other nations about how to get around blocks to sites like Pornhub.

“Can’t you just use a VPN to get around it?” stated one Redditor in the Salt Lake City subreddit. “These days, VPNs are almost a requirement for getting online. If you want your privacy intact, anyways.”

At the same time, others argued that while you could use a VPN, the issue is also about free speech.

“We shouldn’t have to lie about where we are in order to use free speech,” stated another Redditor. “America is still America. And we certainly shouldn’t have to pay for a VPN to lie about our location if we’re still in America.”

Meanwhile, according to Google Trends, searches for “Utah Age Verification Law” have increased by 4,300% since the start of May. “Utah Porn Law” comes in second with a 1,100% increase in searches.