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Web searches for VPNs swell 400% in Texas as Pornhub blocks access

Don’t mess with Texans when it comes to porn.

Google data reveals a sudden rise in search traffic in Texas for VPNs just days after Pornhub and other affiliated adult websites pulled out of the Lone Star State over its new law requiring all users to verify their age by providing a government-issued ID.

VPNs, or virtual private networks, allow Internet users to encrypt their connections and obscure their locations to access region-restricted content. The subscription-based services have become increasingly popular in recent years, usually costing only a few dollars per month.

Since Pornhub blocked access in the state March 14, a VPN is now the only way to visit the site within Texas’s borders. Google Trends show a more than 400% spike in search interest for the term “VPN” in Texas in the immediate days that followed, according to Variety.

Dallas-Ft. Worth topped the list of Texas metros with the jump in VPN Google searches, followed by Houston, Austin, Waco-Temple-Bryan and San Antonio, the outlet said.

The anti-smut law was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June 2023 but didn’t take effect until last week because of a legal challenge.

It requires online publishers whose content is more than one-third “sexual material harmful to minors” to verify the age of every website visitor by checking their identification.

The law was set to take effect Sept. 1 but was initially struck down by a federal judge on First Amendment grounds after a lawsuit brought by the Free Speech Coalition, an advocacy group which included Pornhub’s Canadian parent company Aylo Holdings.

Then last week, a federal appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision and upheld most of the law, putting it into effect. Rather than comply with it, Pornhub blocked access to its site statewide.

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