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Louisiana advances bill to fine porn sites for not verifying age of users

Pornography websites that don’t require their users in Louisiana to present proof of age, such as by uploading their license, could face fines of $5,000 a day under a bill advancing in the House.

Lawmakers in the Louisiana House overwhelmingly approved the measure on Monday and sent it to the Senate for consideration. The legislation would allow the state’s Attorney General to investigate and fine pornographic websites that do not comply with the state’s recently enacted age verification law.

“In preparation for this bill today, I went to one of the largest non-compliant porn sites, so I could tell you exactly what non-compliance to age verification looks like. With only one click I was able to access hardcore pornography on the landing page alone, depicting acts of incest, sexual assault, rape, and sex with minors,” said Rep. Laurie Laurie Schlegel, the Republican sponsoring the bill.

The bill is a companion to a law that went into effect at the start of this year, which requires adult websites to screen their visitors using “reasonable age verification.” The new law applies to websites, where at least one-third of their content is pornographic material considered “harmful to minors.”

Certain adult websites, including Pornhub, began using LA Wallet — which can maintain a copy of a Louisiana resident’s digital driver’s license, as well as vaccination records, virtual court appearances and hunting and fishing licenses. LA Wallet’s system simply tells a third-party verification company whether or not the user is at least 18 years old, The Advocate reported.

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A Louisiana bill has advanced to fine porn sites for not verifying the age of their users.

A Louisiana bill has advanced to fine porn sites for not verifying the age of their users.

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Schlegel, who also sponsored last year’s law, said she created the legislation to “protect children from the dangers of online pornography.”

While people can sue companies that aren’t complying, Schlegel said her new legislation is meant to address websites that have “simply disregarded” the law.

“I know that many of you have heard me say, ‘This isn’t your daddy’s Playboy’ —- but, heck. This isn’t even the Hustler you hid underneath your bed … what we’re discussing today is hardcore pornography that is one click away from our children,” said Schlegel, who is a sex addiction therapist.

Those skeptical of the bill raised privacy concerns and fears of initially broad language. But by the end of the debate, most lawmakers agreed on the bill, which passed 101-1. The sole opposing vote was from Democratic Rep. Mandie Landry. The legislation will move to the Senate to be assigned to a committee for further discussion.

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