Indiana’s Porn Age-Verification Law Halted by Federal Judge

Indiana State House US

In a dramatic move, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, blocking a law set to go into effect on Monday that required age verification for porn websites. “Indiana’s age verification requirements are likely unconstitutional,” Young stated. He argued that if the state were genuinely interested in protecting minors from viewing adult content, it would have imposed age verification requirements universally, rather than selectively determining which websites posed 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 by seeking out websites not covered by the Act,” Young elaborated.

Senate Bill 17 mandated that “adult-oriented websites” hosting explicit materials—such as pornography or other “material harmful to minors”—verify a user’s identity before allowing access. This could be done by scanning a driver’s license or registering with a third-party verification service. Pornhub, along with a coalition of filmmakers, producers, distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, internet platforms, and other creative artists involved in the adult industry, known as the Free Speech Coalition Inc., sued to block the law. As of Friday, Pornhub had already shut down access to its site in Indiana.

Attorney General Todd Rokita’s Office vigorously defended the law. However, Young found that it did not meet the strict scrutiny requirement necessary to curtail First Amendment rights and that minors could easily bypass the law. “The Act imposes burdens on adults accessing constitutionally protected speech even when the majority of a website contains entirely acceptable, and constitutionally protected, material,” Young emphasized in his ruling.

Young provided an overview of how age verification and internet protocol addresses work, noting that parents could easily install software to block access. “The Act does little to stop minors from accessing harmful materials because minors can easily circumvent the Act. Even without doing anything, it may appear that a minor has connected to an adult website from another state that does not impose age verification requirements because IP address geolocation is imprecise,” the ruling stated.

Young also highlighted multiple times that there is no evidence supporting the effectiveness of age verification requirements in preventing minors from viewing harmful materials.

This remarkable decision is a significant blow to Indiana’s legislation and a clear victory for free speech advocates who argue that such laws are not only ineffective but also unnecessarily burdensome.

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