Mississippi SB 2346 Age Verification: FAQs & Staying Compliant
Mississippi’s new Senate Bill 2346 (also called SB2346 and SB 2346, “An Act to Regulate Pornographic Media Exposure to Children”) was signed by Gov. Tate Reeves on April 18, 2023, and will take effect on July 1, 2023. The act requires websites that contain “a substantial portion” of pornographic content to “perform reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of an individual attempting to access the material.”
Attention around SB 2346 is likely to increase as its enforcement dates comes closer. The Utah act has generated significant headlines in recent days, as MindGeek blocked Utahns’ access to its portfolio of adult websites (including PornHub, Brazzers, RedTube, YouPorn and Reality Kings) in response.
Here is a primer to MS SB 2346. We’ll cover what is included (and not included) in the bill, age verification requirements, and potential solutions to challenges created by SB 2346.
Mississippi SB 2346 FAQs
Mississippi SB 2346 requires that any “commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material shall be held liable if the entity fails to perform reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of individuals attempting to access the material.” It also stipulates that entities “shall not retain any identifying information of the individual [user] after access has been granted to the material.”
The act holds commercial entities in violation “liable to an individual for damages resulting from a minor’s accessing the [pornographic] material, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees as ordered by the court.” Similar penalties apply for retaining identifying information, either by the commercial entity itself or a third-party age verification vendor.
Mississippi SB 2346 covers corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, limited partnerships, sole proprietorships and other legally recognized entities that operate a website containing at least one-third “material harmful to minors.” It only covers material served to users and consumers in the state of Mississippi (e.g., Jackson, Gulfport, Southaven).
The bill defines “material harmful to minors” as “Any material that the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest.” In particular, SB 2346 calls out “material that exploits, is devoted to, or principally consists of descriptions of actual, simulated, or animated display or depiction of any of [NSFW acts starting in Section 2-D-ii-1], in a manner patently offensive with respect to minors.” The “material taken as a whole” must lack “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”
SB 2346 only covers access to material by Mississippi residents. “Bona fide news or public interest broadcast[s], website video[s], report[s] or event[s]” are exempt, as are online outlets with less than one-third “material harmful to minors.” (It is not specified how this third is counted.) Internet service providers, their affiliates and subsidiaries, search engines and cloud service providers cannot be held liable for “providing access or connection to or from a website or other information or content on the internet or a facility, system or network not under that provider’s control.”
Mississippi SB 2346 requires that users attempting to access materials verify they are at least 18 years old by providing a “digitized identification card,” or by complying “with a commercial age verification system.” The system must verify a government-issued identification document or utilize “any commercially reasonable method that relies on public or private transactional data to verify the age of the person attempting to access the information is at least eighteen (18) years of age or older.”
Veratad’s age verification solutions offer near-plug-and-play SB 2346 compliance. We support both document- and data-based verification methods, and comply with SB 2346’s rules around data retention. You can request a demo of Veratad’s age verification platform here.
The full text of Mississippi SB 2346 is available here (PDF).