Utah government signs bill requiring parental permission for social media

Samantha Murphy Kelly CNN

The governor of Utah signed into law Thursday a controversial bill that would require minors to obtain parental consent before participating on social media platforms. This is the most aggressive action ever taken by a state or federal legislator to protect children online.

As part of the bill, known as the Utah Social Media Regulation Act, social media platforms will be required to enforce age verification on all Utah residents, ban all advertising directed to minors, and impose curfews. there is. Under 18s from noon to 6:30 am. The bill also requires a social platform to allow parents to access her teen’s account.

The law introduced Passed by Republican Senator Michael McKell and by Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, the bill will take effect March 1, 2024.

“When it comes down to it, [the bill] In a statement to CNN, McKell cited a “dramatic rise” in depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among teens in Utah and across the country, citing the social media site. lagging behind in growth. “As a member of Congress and as a parent, I believe this bill is the best way to prevent children from succumbing to the negative and sometimes life-threatening effects of social media.

The law comes amid concerns that social platforms are leading young users down a toxic rabbit hole, enabling new forms of bullying and harassment, and adding to what has been described as a teenage mental health crisis. comes after years of calling for new safeguards to protect teens online. Country. However, to date, no federal law has been passed.

Utah is the first in an extensive list of states to introduce similar proposals. For example, lawmakers in Connecticut and Ohio Working towards passage of bill for social media companies get parental permission Before users under the age of 16 participate.

“We can speculate that methods like the Utah bill could find its way into other states’ plans, especially if no action is taken at the federal level,” said ABI Research analyst Michael Inouye. In general, more coordination at the federal level to codify these (likely) different state laws under U.S.-wide policy, if enough states enact similar or related laws. We may see some action.”

Industry experts and big tech companies have long urged The US government plans to introduce regulations to help keep young social media users safe. But even before the bill was passed, some had expressed concerns about its impact. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, Said Utah’s specific set of rules is “dangerous” when it comes to user privacy, adding that the bill would make user data less secure, make Internet access less private, and violate the fundamental rights of young users. rice field.

“Social media provides a lifeline for many young people in addition to community, education and conversation,” said Jason Kelly, EFF Director of Operations. “One of the reasons they use it is that it can be private … Laws restricting access to social media and requiring parental consent and oversight of minors It will immensely undermine the ability of young people to protect their privacy and deter them from exercising their rights.”

Lucy Ivy, an 18-year-old TikTok influencer who attends Utah Valley University, agreed, saying some of her friends in the LGBTQ community might challenge change.

“My concern about this bill is that it will deprive teenagers of their privacy, and many children either do not have good relationships with their parents or do not have access to social media. “I think about my LGBTQ friends, some of whom have struggled with their parents because of their sexuality and identity, some of whom have struggled with being themselves and being seen and heard,” she told CNN. You may have lost an important location where you can

Ivey, who launched a publication called our time She, who expanded that content on TikTok when she was 15, also said she was concerned about how the bill would affect content creators like her. (If legal guardians do not approve of her teenage online activities or digital presence, these individuals may have to put their accounts on hold until she turns 18.)

“With new laws like this, teens use social media out of fear of authority or parents, or fear of losing their privacy when they know who they are. You can be intimidated and discouraged by the legal hoops that are required to get you back,” Ivy said.

Facebook parent Meta told CNN it has the same goals as parents and policymakers, but the company also wants young people to have a safe and positive experience online and access the platform. Antigone Davis, Meta’s global head of safety, said the company “will continue to work closely with experts, policy makers and parents on these important issues.” said.

Reps for TikTok and Snap didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Because the bill is unprecedented, it’s unclear exactly how social media companies will adapt. For example, the law requires platforms to turn off “suggested content” algorithms. While this particular guideline may help keep teens from falling into potentially harmful content, it can also create new problems. This can mean that the company loses oversight and control over down-ranking questionable content that may appear in users’ feeds.

Some of the bill’s guidelines can be difficult to enforce. According to Inouye, minors can “steal” her identity from family members and others who don’t use her social media and create accounts that they can access and use without supervision. VPNs can also complicate matching IP addresses to user states, he said.

But even if legislation in Utah and other states proves flawed, Inouye said, “These early efforts at least call attention to these issues.”

https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/03/23/utah-gov-signs-bill-requiring-parental-ok-for-social-media/ Utah government signs bill requiring parental permission for social media

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