Safeguarding minors from explicit websites


    by Wendy McNamara

    According to a National Institutes of Health study, more than 90 percent of boys and more than 60 percent of girls were exposed to internet pornography during their teenage years. The same group reports that exposure to pornography can lead adolescents to risky sexual behavior, sexually transmitted diseases and early pregnancy.

    That’s why I supported legislation, which was recently signed into law, to help protect children from accessing adult-oriented websites. Senate Enrolled Act 17 will require adult-oriented websites to verify consumers are at least 18 years old before allowing them to access content.

    Adult-oriented websites will have to verify a user’s identity by using methods such as scanning a driver’s license, state identification card number, or use of a third-party age verification process. Under the law, the companies will be required to delete users’ personal data immediately after verifying their age.

    The new law also clears the way for parents and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to bring civil action for violations.

    Age-verification for adult websites is already required in other states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Utah, Virginia, North Carolina and Texas.

    By adding an age verification check to these websites, we can help protect minors, and shield them from the psychological and emotional consequences associated with accessing explicit material. Young children can develop unhealthy perceptions of relationships and body image, decreased self-esteem, addiction and other issues.

    This new law is a commonsense approach to help ensure adult content is only accessed by adults.