Utah searches for VPN spike after Pornhub blocks access to state

Pornography fans in Utah appear to be searching for ways to bypass internet IP restrictions after Pornhub blocked access to all Utahns ahead of a state bill that requires porn websites to verify the age of their visitors.

Internet users were blocked from accessing the busiest porn site in the U.S. starting on Monday. Utah Senate Bill 287, which goes into effect on Wednesday, requires that any “commercial entity” that provides pornographic material must very the age of its users in order to ensure that minors are not accessing the content.

Age verification can take place through state-approved “digitized information cards,” third-party verification or any other “reasonable method,” per the bill’s text. Parents and guardians are also able to sue adult film companies for damages if they do not comply with the state’s new law.

In response, Pornhub began blocking visitors with a Utah-based IP address starting on Monday. Affected users are instead shown a message when they attempt to access the site, which states a strong opposition to the new regulation.

Internet users in the state of Utah are banned from accessing Pornhub after the company placed an IP restriction in response to a state bill that requires pornographic sites to verify the ages of its visitors.
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“As you may know, your elected officials in Utah are requiring us to verify your age before allowing you access to our website,” read the message, according to a report from CNN and several other media outlets.

“While safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission, 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,” the statement continued. “Until a real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Utah.”

Newsweek has emailed Pornhub’s communications team for comment.

As of early Tuesday morning, Google search inquiries for “virtual private network,” or VPN, had surged in the state of Utah, according to data from Google Trends. Using VPN software can mask a user’s IP address, which could allow individuals in Utah to still access Pornhub in the state.

Search queries for VPN were at peak popularity in Utah just before 4 a.m. EST Tuesday, according to the trends data. Other related queries in the past week include searches for VPN extensions like Hola and Fox Speed.

According to similarweb, an analytics company that tracks website data, Pornhub was the 10th-most visited site in the U.S. in March, and ranked 12th globally, putting it above Amazon and TikTok.

Utah is not the first state to require proof of age for porn sites. Louisiana enacted a similar law starting on January 1, and Arkansas and Mississippi will require age verification on adult content sites starting this year, according to the Free Speech Coalition.

Republican Utah State Senator Todd Weiler, who sponsored SB 287, said that he expects Pornhub to come up with a solution for users in his state, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.

“They are complying with Louisiana’s law, which is essentially the same,” Weiler said. “So I expect they will eventually comply with Utah’s, as well.”

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