Work has begun on 2024 legislation that would require a website operator to use age verification methods on websites that display material harmful to minors, said State Sen. Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores).

Bohacek’s proposal would also make it a Class A misdemeanor for website operators who knowingly or intentionally publish an adult website without reasonable age verification methods. The penalty would be increased to a Level 6 felony if the operator has a prior violation or conviction.

The legislation builds on House Enrolled Act 1447, which requires school libraries to adopt policies and procedures concerning material alleged to be obscene or harmful to minors.

“The law restricting pornographic materials from being accessed in school libraries highlighted issues parents are concerned about, but didn’t include anything with regard to the internet,” Bohacek said. “We can’t forget that almost all kids have access to the internet, which is filled with other sources of adult content. This bill is the first step in ensuring our kids are safely browsing the internet without the risk of stumbling across something they aren’t meant to see.”

Similar legislation has already passed in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Utah, Virginia and Texas.

“Indiana needs to be a leader in protecting children from inappropriate material in all public spaces,” Bohacek said. “Kids are like sponges, constantly absorbing everything they see, and living in such a media-driven world creates unattainable expectations for kids, ultimately damaging their mental and physical well-being. It’s important for us, as adults and parents, to make sure they are protected from the dangers they can view on the internet.”

Bohacek added that his legislation is still being developed, but is anticipated to be officially filed for the 2024 legislative session this fall.

To view a complete list of Bohacek’s bills he authored during the 2023 session, click here.