Paxton sues Pornhub under the currently-enforceable state anti-porn law


Way more indecent

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton this week sued a major online porn distributor in an effort to enforce a new state law mandating age verification and purported health warnings on adult websites.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Austin on Monday, accuses the adult-entertainment company Aylo of violating House Bill 1181, a new state content-warning law for websites. A Montreal-based company, Aylo runs a number of major online porn brands, including Pornhub.

Among other rules, HB 1181 requires that porn websites “use reasonable age verification methods” to “verify that an individual attempting to access the material is 18 years of age or older.” It also orders such websites to post controversial health warnings that pornography “weakens brain function,” “is proven to harm human brain development” and “is associated with low self-esteem and body image, eating disorders, impaired brain development, and other emotional and mental illnesses.”

According to the lawsuit, minors who visit Aylo’s pornographic websites are either “immediately presented with sexual material” or “are asked to complete the trivial step of clicking an ‘enter’ button.” As a result, the suit says, Aylo has completely failed to comply with HB 1181.

The suit seeks an injunction forcing Aylo to use age verification and display the required health warnings. Texas also wants hefty fines, including $1.6 million in civil penalties plus $10,000 per day dating back to Sept. 19, 2023 — the day when the Fifth Circuit first greenlit the law.


Last year, a coalition of porn-industry insiders — including a free-speech group focused on pornography — won an injunction blocking the law.

Their original suit, filed in federal court in Austin, described HB 1181 as part of a “long tradition of unconstitutional — and ultimately failed — governmental attempts to regulate and censor free speech on the internet.” Rather than imposing new content restrictions, “Texas could easily spread its ideological, anti-pornography message through public service announcements and the like,” the suit argued.

U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra, a Reagan appointee, ultimately found those arguments persuasive. Among other factors, he determined that rules requiring health warnings in 14-point font were overly burdensome and ambiguous, as “text size on webpages is typically measured by pixels, not points.”

In his ruling from August, Ezra also cited Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a longstanding standard that protects online publishers from liability for content produced by third-parties. Without explaining its reasoning, the conservative Fifth Circuit overruled that injunction, including with a one-page administrative stay in September. Those orders paved the way for Texas to enforce the law, including with this latest suit.

See here, here, and here for the background. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where Aylo will want this to actually get to a courtroom, because it sure seems like they’d lose. What they would surely prefer is either a quick settlement or to drag things out for as long as possible in the hope that the Free Speech Coalition eventually succeeds in getting the law permanently blocked. I don’t know what their risk tolerance is or whether the timeline of the federal lawsuit is amenable to that strategy. We’ll see how this plays out. Bloombeg Law has more.

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One Response to Paxton sues Pornhub under the currently-enforceable state anti-porn law

  1. Robert says:

    How many mass shootings and silence…smh

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