KSL at Night: Coalition seeks hold on Utah’s age verification law

Jun 2, 2023, 9:30 PM

The OLRGC released an analysis of the expected topics to be discussed during a special session of t...

The Utah State Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — The adult website, Pornhub, became unavailable in Utah last month due to the new age verification law that was passed.

Now, the Free Speech Coalition is seeking a preliminary injunction against the new law. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, joined KSL at Night with hosts Derek Brown and Greg Skordas on Friday to talk about the lawsuit.

To open the conversation, Weiler is asked about the law and where the lawsuit currently stands.

“The law is that websites have to make a commercially reasonable effort to verify that they’re showing adults pornographic, X-rated content, to adults,” Weiler said. “And apparently, it’s already illegal in Utah and all 50 states to show that kind of content to children. And yet, websites, like Pornhub, do it every day without any consequence.”

Some say age verification law violates Constitution

Weiler also said the state doesn’t allow vaping products to be sold to children. And gambling sites aren’t allowed to let children gamble.

“But according to the porn industry,” Weiler said. “It’s a violation of constitutional rights if we ask them to not allow children to view their X-rated content.”

Skordas points out that in this case, it’s about speech, and not something that could be physically harmful to children such as tobacco, alcohol and even firearms.

“Does that make a difference to you, do you think?” Skordas asked. 

“Well, yeah because there’s a First Amendment. Pornography is a form of speech,” Weiler said. “And there’s a First Amendment right. Tobacco and alcohol aren’t protected by the First Amendment or the Constitution. …. The First Amendment is important. It’s great. I love it, but it’s not unlimited.”

A strong or weak case?

Brown asked, “How strong, senator, do you think the case is?”

“The thing that the porn industry loves about the internet,” Weiler said. “Is it allows people to be anonymous. And so, what they’re really arguing is there’s a First Amendment right to anonymity. And I don’t think they’re going to win that argument.” 

Brown asked, “You’re probably getting some interesting phone calls and emails. Am I right?”

“I did the first week or two,” Weiler said. “It’s calmed down and I think people have figured out, adults have figured out they can get a VPN or there’s other websites.”

Weiler mentions there are other adult websites that are complying with Utah’s law.

“So, in one hand, Pornhub is saying it’s impossible for us to do this in Utah,” Weiler said. “And yet, other websites, I’ve been told, are doing it.”

Listen to the entire segment.


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KSL at Night: Coalition seeks hold on Utah’s age verification law