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

Mike Bohacek speaks into a microphone in a Senate committee room. Bohacek is a White man with dark, graying hair, and he is wearing a suit and tie.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Sen. Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) presents legislation to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 10, 2024.

Indiana lawmakers are taking steps to make it harder for children to access pornographic websites.

Sen. Mike Bohacek’s (R-Michiana Shores) bill, SB17, that cleared a Senate committee Wednesday would require those websites to use an age verification system that goes beyond just clicking “yes” when asked if you’re age 18 or older.

“We need to try to put some speed bumps on this and try to make sure it’s not as accessible as just, you know, turning your phone on,” Bohacek said.

The bill would require the 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.

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ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Chris Daley said a similar measure has been halted by a court in Texas for being unconstitutionally broad.

“Which is why we’re encouraging you to wait and see how it comes out,” Daley said.

Some lawmakers, including Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne), didn’t like that suggestion.

“It would be absolutely wrong for us to do as legislators,” Brown said. “We’d be derelict in our duty.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate.

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

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.