The Pornhub ban is a serious threat to civil rights

The Pornhub logo color with the state of Texas in the background

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Recently, the adult entertainment company Pornhub announced that it would be shutting down access to its website for users in Texas. On the surface, this might seem to be an issue that would only impact overly horny college students that need to touch grass anyway. But in reality, this situation should raise serious concerns for Texans from all backgrounds.

While some have taken to referring to the shutdown as the “Pornhub ban” the website’s parent company voluntarily removed access to the website in protest over House Bill 1181 being passed.

HB1181 was, in theory, meant to protect minors from accessing adult materials by requiring that porn websites ask for ID verification from each user that tries to access them.

Naturally, keeping minors from accessing age inappropriate material is something pretty much everyone can get behind. But the potential impact of the law runs much deeper.

For one, this approach would mean that adult websites would keep your personal information on file in exchange for you accessing them. While many websites already track certain pieces of information, this law would escalate data collection to an arguably ridiculous level.

There’s no shame in what you get off to in your personal time, but do you really trust these websites to keep your information safe? Imagine uploading your student ID or driver’s license to some sketchy corner of the internet one lonely night, only to get a call the next day threatening to tell your mother about your horrendous porn habit.

This is an exaggeration, of course, but in an era where so many websites are already mining our data, do we really need to be giving them more access to it?

Beyond data security, who’s to say that this law wouldn’t be abused by the Texas government itself? The people pushing for pornography restrictions are and always have been handwringing conservatives who make a fuss over the slightest show of an ankle, after all.

First it’s porn being restricted, then it could be anything from basic sex education to abortion access resources to pro-LGBTQ+ content. Your personal freedom to access these websites doesn’t matter because these people will do anything in the name of protecting kids. Except for cracking down on rampant sex abuse within Texas churches, of course.

That being said, children do deserve to be protected from this kind of content, and the adult film industry is far from innocent. At the end of the day, these companies are more interested in turning a profit than they are in discussing ethics, so some kind of restrictions might be in order.

One potential option could be what’s known as “device-based age verification.” Essentially, new phones and tablets would come with content filters pre-installed that could then be removed once your age is successfully verified. This means that, while your data would still be on file, it would be in the hands of device manufacturers like Apple, rather than adult websites.

At the end of the day, everybody watches porn in one way or another. Sex work is called the “oldest profession” for a reason, after all. Your dad probably kept sketchy magazines stashed under his mattress and your grandmother was definitely reading… intimate novels with hunky cowboys on the cover.

Sex is a part of life, and everyone has to learn about it at some point. Porn has and will continue to be a place where people find representation, education and simple pleasure that no one should be ashamed of.

Online pornography means that sex is more accessible than ever before, and we have yet to fully grasp how to handle the implications of that yet. But leaning away from it instead of trying to healthily regulate it is, simply put, denying a part of ourselves that’s utterly human.

So as you go about your regular… viewing habits this week, start thinking like a Texan. This state was built by rugged individuals who distrusted the government’s ability to regulate their personal life, and the future will be built by the same kinds of people. Take a stand and make them come take the pornography from our cold, dead fingers.

Malachi Key is a journalism senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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