Idaho's recent introduction of anti-porn laws, which mandate age verification for adult websites, is a misguided attempt to protect minors from the dangers of pornography. I agree that nothing good comes from minors having such easy access to online smut. Still, our legislation is nothing more than a modern version of prohibition and the laughable war on drugs policies of the past. Instead of learning from our past failures, the Gem State decided to pass a copycat version of Utah's ineffective policies.

In 1920, the United States banned the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol, and it has become a cautionary tale for attempting to legislate morality. This led to the rise of organized crime and lawlessness until it was repealed less than 13 years later. The "war on drugs" that began in the 70s and is still waging on, seems to be the war that we just can't win. Instead, we are seeing an opioid epidemic and millions of people walking the streets like zombies, slaves to their heroine and meth addictions, choosing drugs over their own children.

Idaho's anti-porn laws are headed in the same failed direction. These policies fly in the face of residents who claim to value independence, freedom, and keeping the government out of their personal lives. To prove your age to visit these adult sites, you have to upload copies of your Idaho Driver's Licence, which gives sensitive personal information to these websites, placing Idaho residents even more at risk for identity theft than other states.

If you think that this will actually keep minors that want porn away from porn, you're kidding yourself. When you are having technical difficulties with your phone, the first person you ask for help from is a teenager. Do you think that teenagers don't know that with the click of one button on your phone, you can turn on a VPN to trick the website into thinking that you are in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, or the Bahamas? That one click makes the Idaho anti-porn laws irrelevant.

Websites, such as Pornhub, have chosen to geo-block their site from Idaho so that they don't have to comply with the laws or deal with any legal challenges. They believe the best way to protect children is to age-restrict the content on their devices and think Idaho's new laws risk users' privacy.

Enforcement of these laws is impossible because these websites are based in other states or countries where Idaho has no jurisdiction. Other states will not help Idaho go after a law-abiding company that is obeying their state laws and paying their state taxes. Texas tried to enforce a similar law and faced legal challenges for freedom of speech and privacy. Legal precedents ensure Idaho's laws will be unenforceable.

Perhaps, Pornhub is correct in championing device-based age verification. That system is designed to confirm the age of users trying to access adult content using the device's built-in capabilities. This is typically tied to a phone number, location, or other information to determine age requirements. It is more effective and less intrusive than uploading personal documents.

Yes, easy access to pornography is a problem, but Idaho's new laws are a waste of time. They are ineffective and unenforceable. Instead, we should spend this money in classrooms teaching our children responsible online behavior while pursuing device-based age verification. Let's keep the internet free like Idaho used to be.

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