Age Verification Leads To Decline In Pornographic Viewing

Matthew 5:28: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

An innovative new Louisiana law has proven highly effective in protecting kids and combating the pornography industry. Similar laws are springing up in other places, and are receiving bipartisan support.

Sadly, in the internet age, pornography has become widely available. That availability has helped pornography to become a massive worldwide industry. One popular pornographic website reportedly received 42 billion visits—or 115 million visits per day—during the year 2019. A 2022 survey showed that 44% of American men and 11% of American women had viewed pornography at least once within the past month. Early this year, a survey from Common Sense Media indicated that 54% of American youths had viewed internet pornography before age 13,[1] while 15% had seen it by age 10. Pornography use by young people is connected to sexual misconduct and mental health problems.

In February, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms noted that Louisiana had passed a law requiring pornographic internet websites to implement age verification mechanisms to insure that their viewers are at least 18 years old. In other words, the law mandates that users of pornography provide government identification as proof of age (much like state laws that require proof of age for purchasers of alcohol or tobacco).

It appears that the Louisiana law has led to a major decrease in pornography use. One popular pornographic website that has opted to comply with the law has experienced a staggering 80% decrease in usage in the state of Louisiana. Doubtless, this decrease is caused in part by youths being unable to access the website; however, it is also likely that many adults are opting against using the website because they do not want to reveal their identities.

According to Politico, the states of Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, Utah, Virginia and Texas have passed laws similar to Louisiana’s. Significantly, those laws “were passed by overwhelming margins in legislatures controlled by both parties and signed into law by Democratic and Republican governors alike.” In four of those states, rather than implementing user age verification, the popular pornographic website mentioned above has ceased operating altogether; when people in those three states visit the website, they see only an announcement about why the website is no longer operational. One spokesman for the pornography industry has complained that the cost of age verification is “business-killing.” As of August 8, 2023, similar bills had been introduced in 16 other states.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the pornography industry oppose age verification laws. Most voters, however, feel differently. The American Principles Project indicates that in swing states, 77% of voters support age verification laws like Louisiana’s. The Louisiana law asserts that pornography may ‘”impact brain development and functioning, contribute to emotional and medical illnesses, shape deviant sexual arousal, and lead to difficulty in forming or maintaining positive, intimate relationships, as well as promoting problematic or harmful sexual behaviors and addiction.’” Doesn’t this sound like something New York government should protect our kids from?

[1]  In 2021, popular singer Billie Eilish told an interviewer, “‘I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest. I started watching porn when I was like 11. … I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.’”