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Indiana AG responds to Pornhub’s plan to block access to Indiana

Attorney General Rokita defends age verification for porn websites

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on Thursday defended a state law that will require porn website users to verify their age with personal information. The law is set to go into effect July 1.

The law was first signed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb in March and lays out the verification needed by users to access the porn website’s material. In addition, the law gives the state’s Republican attorney general, and other people, the power to sue the websites if minors can access “harmful” material.

“Would you be OK with a child, walking, physically walking, into an adult novelty store, where there’s magazines, videos, toys? No,” Rokita said Thursday. “You’d at least, if it was questionable, ask for an ID, so why is it any different online?”

On June 11, Pornhub’s parent company, Aylo, filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the law. The lawsuit argues the state law interferes with free speech and constitutional rights by violating the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

Aylo then announced they would block access to Pornhub in Indiana, claiming they do not take issue with performing age-verification protocol for users, but take issue with the amount of personal information the state wants to require from users.

“Any regulations that require hundreds of thousands of adult sites to collect significant amounts of highly sensitive personal information is putting user safety in jeopardy,” part of Aylo’s statement to News 8 said. “Moreover, as experience has demonstrated, unless properly enforced, users will simply access non-compliant sites or find other methods of evading these laws.”

Rokita spoke directly to privacy concerns, saying the law requires porn websites to destroy confidential user material.

“The General Assembly considered this, and they put the onus on your favorite adult website that you want to go to to erase your data,” Rokita said.

To ensure this happens, he will have enforcement authority over that destruction.

“I think that these porn sites don’t want to take the risk of having a data breach,” Rokita said.

In addition to his enforcing power, the law gives people the right to take legal action against the site if their private information is compromised.

Aylo says the fear of private information leaking simply drives users to different, perhaps more dangerous, sites.

“These people did not stop looking for porn,” Aylo’s statement said. “They just migrated to darker corners of the internet that don’t ask users to verify age, that don’t follow the law, that don’t take user safety seriously, and that often don’t even moderate content. In practice, the laws have just made the internet more dangerous for adults and children.”

Similar laws are in effect in Louisiana, where Aylo has seen this scenario play out. A Texas law is also in effect while the U.S. Supreme Court weighs an appeal from the same free speech group suing in the Indiana lawsuit.

A judge will hear arguments on Monday on whether to allow the law to go into effect July 1, or issue an injunction.

Rokita said he plans to defend the law, claiming the porn sites do not want to pay for the correct verification process.

“What this comes down to is that they don’t want to spend the money to protect kids,” Rokita said. “Because of that, they are part of the problem, they are part of the problem for why our kids are so corrupted.”