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Illinois legislators push to make pornography websites verify visitor’s age

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(The Center Square) – State lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would require Illinoisans to verify their age when clicking on pornographic sites. Those Illinois businesses that fail to enact verification methods would be subject to civil penalties.

State Sen. Erica Harriss’ Senate Bill 2590 is much like legislation that has been filed in 25 other states, and has passed in at least seven of those states.

“As written, it wouldn’t need to be a government issued ID, it would allow for other age-verification methods,” said Harriss, R-Glen Carbon. “I am open to having conversations … how we can make this a win and still protect free speech.”

Harriss has bipartisan support. State Sens. Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, and Mary Edly-Allen, D-Libertyville, have co-sponsored the legislation. The Democratic lawmakers did not immediately respond to The Center Square’s request for comment.

Harriss said her goal is to give Illinois kids a healthy childhood.

“This is about creating a safe barrier to protect our kids from inappropriate content that has been widely proven to make them less safe, less confident and less happy,” Harriss said.

Alongside Harriss at a news conference in Springfield Thursday was state Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia. He said he has a bill that would require school boards to put their curriculum on the school district’s website.

The parents could just email the school teacher for the classroom materials or class syllabus, but there’s always bad actors, according to Anderson.

“There’s always the ones that aren’t transparent, and say, ‘we don’t have to do this [provide classroom materials to parents]. This is an easy way for them to put it up on the website, and parents can go there and see where they’re at in the school year curriculum,” said Anderson. “[For example], next week Timmy is going to be learning about pollination, flowers and bees. Now as a parent I can go and help the student learn throughout that week.”

In Heyworth, Illinois, a teacher involuntarily resigned in March 2023 after about 100 parents went to a school board meeting and expressed anger with the teacher’s classroom materials. School teacher Sara Bonner included a Porn Hub documentary called “Moneyshot” on her reading assignment list.

Harriss said once her bill is in committee, she will be open to having conversations with businesses like Porn Hub.

“We need to solve this problem, let’s come together and talk about how to do it,” said Harriss. “That conversation hasn’t been happening, which I think is a real tragedy. We are failing our kids.”

The fees collected from business entities who violate the potential law would go to the Cyber Exploitation of Children Fund, which will then be spent for the investigation of cyber crimes involving the exploitation of children.

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