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Age Verification for Adult Websites Blocked by an Indiana Judge

July 01, 2024

2 min 7 sec read
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And, BAM, just like that. We just reported on Friday that Pornhub and many other sites began blocking access to their websites due to a law that would require proof of age, such as a driver's license or other identifying documents, to be uploaded to a state database.

Pornhub, along with other adult-industry filmmakers, producers, distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, and internet platforms, known collectively as Free Speech Coalition Inc, filed a lawsuit. On Friday, only one day after Porn Hub shut down access in Indiana and many other states to protest the new law, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the law before it could go into effect on Monday.

Cell Phone Used as Gavel as Judge Makes Ruling
"Indiana's age verification requirements are likely unconstitutional," he stated. "If Indiana were truly interested in protecting minors from seeing adult content, it would have imposed age verification requirements wherever those images are found, not by selectively determining which websites displaying adult content present the most danger. In sum, the Act does not sufficiently advance the government's interests in protecting minors from harmful obscene speech because minors can easily circumvent the law using technology or searching for websites not covered by the Act."

He said the "law doesn't meet the strict scrutiny requirement to curtail First Amendment rights . . ." He added, "The Act imposes burdens on adults accessing constitutionally protected speech even when the majority of a website contains entirely acceptable, and constitutionally protected, material."

Other concerns about the law are that it would not just block pornography but could be used to block "age-appropriate LGBTQ+" or even to censor sex education content.

Judge Young's concerns echo those of the ACLU of Indiana, who said about the ineffectiveness of the law, "The worst part, the law won't even work. "Minors will just go to sites that aren't regulated by Indiana law or use technology to bypass the verification method. A @CommonSenseMedia report found 6 in 10 older teenagers already use VPNs to browse the internet."

In support of his decision, the judge wrote that Indiana's legislature "chose an ineffective and more broad method to protect minors from harmful materials than other alternatives." He strongly pointed out that The First Amendment does not allow imprecision.

It's likely other states will follow suit, as many users and those who make a living in the adult industry voice concerns about being forced to identify themselves to view legal adult material, which is constitutionally protected speech.

We'll have to wait to see how this battle plays out, but for now, Pornhub is back online in the Hoosier state.

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