FSC to Appeal Following Utah Judge's Dismissal of 'Age Verification' Challenge

FSC to Appeal Following Utah Judge's Dismissal of 'Age Verification' Challenge

SALT LAKE CITY — After a Utah judge on Tuesday morning granted the state its motion to dismiss Free Speech Coalition's challenge to a new, vaguely worded "age verification" mandate, the adult industry trade group announced that it will appeal that decision.

U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart granted the dismissal after declaring that he did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

The FSC statement follows:

In a decision this morning, a judge in the United States District Court granted Utah’s Motion to Dismiss Free Speech Coalition’s challenge to the state’s age verification mandate. FSC will appeal the decision.

The court ruled that state officials could not be sued by the Plaintiffs, who claimed they do not have the necessary power to enforce the age-verification mandate. FSC plans to contest that finding.

Utah’s newly enacted verification law requires sites to verify identity through a non-existent state digital ID, or to partner with data brokers to otherwise verify age and identity of all visitors. Consumers, tech groups and the adult industry have all raised serious privacy concerns about the legislation.

FSC Executive Director Alison Boden:

“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. Government attempts to chill speech, no matter the method, are prohibited by the Constitution and decades of legal precedent.

“Fighting this as a pre-enforcement challenge — rather than waiting for a case to be brought against one of FSC’s members — was always going to be an uphill battle. But, given the chilling effect of this law, it’s a necessary one. While Utah was able to temporarily slow FSC’s challenge, we are encouraged by the Court’s acknowledgement of the constitutional concerns raised by the law, and look forward to arguing our case at the appellate level.

“As the Supreme Court has established, the government can not, and should not, wall off the internet when less restrictive options for protecting minors exist.”

FSC has also filed suit in Louisiana over that state’s age-verification law. Unlike Utah, Louisiana’s Attorney General is directly involved with enforcement of the law, which allows the state to bring civil suits against sites, largely barring concerns raised in the Utah case.

For more information, visit FreeSpeechCoalition.com.

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