Texas can again enforce its new law requiring people to prove they are 18 or older to access online porn.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request last week to lift a temporary injunction that had blocked implementation of House Bill 1181. Signed into law in June, it requires any commercial entity that publishes or distributes pornographic content online to use age-verification methods to bar users under 18.
In August, a coalition of pornography websites and advocates, including the popular streaming platform Pornhub, sued Texas to prohibit the law from taking effect. A federal judge ruled in their favor, agreeing that the measure likely violated the First Amendment.
But on Nov. 14, a three-judge federal appeals panel on the Fifth Circuit vacated the injunction pending appeal. The panel heard oral arguments last month and said it would “issue an expedited opinion as soon as reasonably possible.”
In the meantime, the state is free to enforce HB 1181, which requires individuals attempting to access sexual material to provide digital identification, government-issued identification or transactional data (like mortgage or employment records) to prove they are not minors. The law prohibits companies from retaining any of the identifying information.
See here and here for the background. The order just lifts the injunction pending a hearing and ruling on the appeal, it does not offer any reasons for doing so. I dunno, man. The Fifth Circuit is gonna do what the Fifth Circuit is gonna do. Maybe someday we’ll have a real Court of Appeals and not a bunch of frothing ideologues over there. Today is not that day. The Current, which notes that as of Tuesday the law was not being observed by at least several leading companies, has more.