Tennessee bill aims to require age verification for pornography websites
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Reporter note: There may be elements of this story that are not suitable for work or kids.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — There’s a new bill in Tennessee proposing a requirement for people to submit a photo of their I.D. to prove their age to access pornography sites.

“Laws don’t keep up with technology,” Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) said. “We already prevent children from accessing pornography in a tangible sense like magazines and that sort of thing.”

Hazlewood sponsored and filed the bill in the House.

The United States is by far the largest consumer of pornography in the world, data suggests. Where Tennessee sits in that consumption is a little more complicated because of the lack of data.

Back in 2016, Pornhub’s own insights report Tennessee had the 8th-highest length of duration to the website, but the site didn’t release data about each state relative to actual daily traffic.

But back in 2013, it did and ranked Tennessee 38th in site visits per capita.

Of course, that was a decade ago and this is only from one website. There are plenty of others.

If you look at the data for Google Trends – essentially how many people are Googling the word ‘porn’ – Tennessee was in the top 5 in 2013 when controlled for internet access and is above the U.S. average in 2023.

“I would actually hope that this would pass in the House 99-0 and 33-0 in the Senate,” Hazlewood said. “I’m really hopeful that we would get bipartisan support.”

It might not be unanimous, but she will likely get support from some Democrats as the bill is currently constructed.

“I’m always for legislation that complements – not substitutes – but complements responsible parenting,” Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) said.

Some critics tagged concerns over the law saying it restricts content ‘harmful to minors.’ Republicans used similar wording for a law passed earlier this year to restrict drag performances. It’s still tied up in court. 

Some Democrats told News Channel 11’s sister station in Nashville they’re not concerned because the bill also gives a detailed list of outlawed content. So as it’s currently built, it’ll have at least some Democratic support.

“I’m always careful to look for amendments, especially last-minute amendments, that change the whole nature of the bill,” Hardaway said.

About seven other states have pushed or passed a similar law to Hazlewood’s bill. In response, Pornhub pulled access to its website entirely in those states.

News Channel 11’s sister station did reach out to Pornhub for comment on the story. As of publishing, it has not responded.

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