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Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Utah porn site age-verification law

Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 01, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's new law requiring pornography websites to verify the ages of users will remain in place after a judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the law that passed earlier this year.

U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart dismissed the lawsuit that was filed in May by the Free Speech Coalition, a trade group representing the adult entertainment industry.

In his ruling, Stewart said he did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

The Free Speech Coalition says they will appeal the decision. They believe SB 287 infringes on the privacy and free speech rights of users who must provide government-issued identification to access adult-oriented websites in Utah. The lawsuit also argued the state doesn't have the ability to verify digital IDs online.

“Utah is attempting to duck responsibility for a dangerous law passed by its own legislature, but make no mistake — the law is unconstitutional. As we’ve seen with Don’t Say Gay, the Texas Heartbeat Act and other attacks on free speech, states are attempting to do an end-run around the First Amendment by outsourcing censorship to citizens. It’s a new mechanism, but a deeply flawed one," said Coalition Exec. Director Alison Boden

In a statement following the ruling, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes called the decision a "victory for the rule of law."

"Regarding the policy at issue, the innocence and safety of our children are paramount and worth protecting ardently," said Reyes. "That is what our legislature did in passing S.B. 287, and that is what my office will continue to do when anyone attempts to undermine these reasonable safeguards for our children.”