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Stricter age verification for adult sites requirement heads to Indiana House floor

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Government, Politics, Technology
Laws in other states requiring stricter age verification on adult sites have had mixed success in the court system. (Photo illustration by Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Adult websites will need stronger age verification measures under a bill headed to the Indiana House floor.

SB 17 easily cleared a House committee Wednesday, despite concerns that include its constitutionality.

The bill would require adult sites to verify their customers’ ages with a mobile driver’s license or government ID (which Indiana doesn’t provide), or through a third-party service that verifies the customer’s age.

ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Chris Daley worries the bill will be unenforceable because courts will find it unconstitutional.

“We would recommend that you all look at boosting filtering software, which is found to be a constitutionally permissible way to do this,” Daley said. “And frankly, some experts believe it is more effective.”

READ MORE: Senate committee approves bill to require stricter age verification for pornographic websites

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But Alexander Mingus of the Indiana Catholic Conference said stricter age verification is a better option than filtering.

“It takes a little bit of the financial pressure off of parents to buy these filters that are often not free,” Mingus said.

Similar bills in other states have had mixed success in the courts.

Some committee members also expressed concerns about how adult sites are defined in the bill.

The measure’s definition includes a reference to “material harmful to minors,” a term already included in state law that was the subject of controversial legislation on libraries last year.

Some lawmakers worry including that term to define adult sites is too broad and doesn’t capture solely the pornographic sites the legislation is aimed at.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.