A federal judge has struck down a Texas law requiring age verification and health warnings to visit pornographic websites and blocked the state attorney general’s office from enforcing it.
In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Ezra agreed with the claim House Bill 1181, which was signed into law by the Texas governor. Greg Abbott’s violation of free speech rights in June is vague and pervasive.
The state attorney general’s office, which is defending the law, immediately filed a notice of appeal with the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The case was filed in August. 4 by the Free Speech Coalition, a trade organization for the adult entertainment industry, and an individual identified as Jane Doe and described as an adult entertainer on various adult sites, including PornHub.
Judge Ezra also said the law, which takes effect Friday, raises privacy concerns because a permissible age verification is using government-issued identification and the government has access to and does not require data deletion.
“People will be especially concerned about accessing controversial speech when the state government can log and track that access,” Ezra wrote. “By verifying information through government identification, the law would allow the government to look into the most intimate and personal aspects of people’s lives.”
Ezra said Texas has a legitimate goal of protecting children from online sexual content, but noted there are other measures in place, including blocking and filtering software.
“These methods are more effective and less restrictive in protecting minors from adult content,” Ezra wrote.
The judge also found that the law unconstitutionally compels adult sites to post health warnings by forcing speech — that pornography is addictive, impairs mental development and increases demand for images of prostitution, child exploitation and child sexual abuse.
“Publications actually state scientific findings when, in reality, they are unsupported by hotly contested evidence,” Ezra wrote.
The Texas law is one of several similar laws Passed in other statesIncluding Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah and Louisiana.
Texas law carries fines of up to $10,000 per violation that can be increased to $250,000 per violation by a minor.
Utah law was upheld by a federal judge who rejected a lawsuit challenging it last month. a case Louisiana challenges the law There is the rest.