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Adult websites must require stricter age verification under bill awaiting governor's signature

A fake mockup of an age verification popup on a website.
Photo illustration by Lauren Chapman
IPB News
The stricter age verification required by legislation headed to the governor's desk can be either a mobile credential or verification through a third-party site.

Adult websites have to use stricter age verification to operate in Indiana under legislation headed to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) said SB 17 aims to protect children from adult content.

“This is, by its nature, material that is harmful to a minor,” Brown said. “And what we’re saying is, if you don’t have the controls in place — which the technology exists — then you’re not going to be able to operate, unless you put those protections, in the state of the Indiana.”

The age verification required by the bill is either through mobile credentials — which the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles doesn’t offer — or through a third-party website.

The measure allows parents and the state attorney general to bring lawsuits against adult website operators that don’t comply.

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

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Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said it’s a “pipe dream” that the bill will stop kids from being able to access adult content online.

“This bill is going to do nothing but allow a third-party vendor to get your information,” Taylor said.

There is language in the bill that bans either the adult site operators or third-party verification services from keeping people’s information once it’s been used to verify their age.

Some similar bills in other states have been halted in court.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at 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.