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Texas AG Ken Paxton Sues Pornhub Parent Company Aylo

Legal - By Tech
Texas AG Ken Paxton Sues Pornhub Parent Company Aylo

AUSTIN, Texas—Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, has announced that his office is suing Aylo, formerly known as MindGeek, for violations of the state's age verification law requiring measures to prevent minors from accessing porn.

The lawsuit names Aylo Global and its U.S. operations and is currently before a state-level district court in Travis County, Texas.

Aylo, based in Montreal, Quebec, and owned by the Canadian private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners, owns Pornhub and the affiliated properties of the adult tube powerhouse. Properties owned by Aylo include adult studios like Brazzers and TransAngels.

“Texas has a right to protect its children from the detrimental effects of pornographic content,” said Attorney General Paxton, a staunch Republican who is openly opposed to the pornography industry. “I look forward to holding any company accountable that violates our age verification laws intended to prevent minors from being exposed to harmful, obscene material on the internet.”

Paxton argues that Aylo and its affiliated properties violated House Bill (HB) 1181. HB 1181 is a controversial "copycat" age-gating law that specifically targets porn websites with requirements to verify that every user from Texas IP addresses is 18 or older.

According to Paxton's office, they are asking the court to impose fines of up to $1.6 million, plus $10,000 per day since September 19, 2023, and for $10,000 per day from the filing date of the immediate lawsuit. That sum could surpass $3.2 million.

Another component of the law was that it requires adult websites to post pseudoscientific public health labels that claim porn is addictive and ostensibly has links to organized criminal activity like human trafficking. Adult industry trade group the Free Speech Coalition, along with Aylo and other holdings companies that own and operate porn platforms, sued Texas to block enforcement of the law before the Austin Division of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra ruled HB 1181 unconstitutional and granted a preliminary injunction blocking the law.

In the order granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Ezra noted: “As a political, religious, and social matter, consumption of pornography raises difficult and intensely debated questions about what level and type of sexual exposure is dangerous or healthy."

Angela Colmenero, then-interim attorney general during Paxton's impeachment trial, appealed the injunction to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Notoriously conservative, the Fifth Circuit took up the case, issued an administrative stay allowing the law to enter force, and then returned the case back to the Western District of Texas for the litigation on HB 1181's constitutionality to continue.

The case, Free Speech Coalition et al. v. Paxton, is scheduled for new filing in July 2024, according to a court order on January 31.

Aylo had not returned AVN's request for comment as of post time.