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All pornography in the US is now effectively classified as child pornography, unless providers can prove the ages of everyone taking part.

The law, which requires porn producers to hold copies of all actors' photo ID for seven years, has been in place for some time, but as of 23 June, the rule was extended to cover online pornography as well. This includes online forums, adult personals sites and any other place where adult material may be published.

In response, a number of sites have voluntarily taken themselves offline, to avoid breaking the newly applied rules. According to BoingBoing, Rotten.com has taken down ratemyboner.com and gapingmaw.com, which contained the occasional explicit image, although it is/was not a porn site, as such.

In a statement on the site, gapingmaw.com's administrators call the law a "side-handed attack on the pornography industry", and says that it would be impossible for it to meet the requirements of the regulations.

While the law is designed to protect minors, and prevent exploitation, some free speech campaigners argue that the law gives authorities an awful lot of power to close down site they don't approve of, even if that was not its original goal. They point out that the Patriot Act was used to prosecute people for offenses that were not terrorist offenses shortly after it became law.

The Free Speech Coalition is already preparing a legal challenge to the law, and says it has already won some concessions from the government.

Meanwhile, others still warn that the law could even leave some performers, such as women operating webcam shows from their homes, open to stalking and harassment, because the law requires that they publish their physical addresses online. See more on that here.

You can plough through the text of the legislation here. ®

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