Ron DeSantis signs bill requiring parental consent for social media accounts for children under 16

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) just Sign into law HB 3the bill would give parents of teenagers under 16 more control over how their children access social media and require age verification on many websites.

The bill requires social media platforms to prevent children under 14 from creating accounts and delete existing accounts. It also requires 14- and 15-year-olds to obtain parental or guardian consent to create or maintain social media accounts, and requires platforms to delete social media accounts and personal information of that age group at the request of a teen or parent. Companies that fail to promptly delete accounts belonging to children aged 14 and 15 can be sued on behalf of those children and may owe them each up to $10,000 in damages. “Knowing or reckless” violations may also be considered unfair or Deceptive trade practices are subject to civil penalties of up to $50,000 per violation.

The bill would also require many commercial apps and websites to verify the age of their users — which raises a host of privacy concerns. But it does require websites to offer users the option of “anonymous age verification,” which is defined as a third party that cannot retain identifying information after the verification task is completed. The requirement comes into effect when a commercial website contains “substantial amounts of material harmful to minors,” defined as more than one-third of the website’s content that is clearly targeted at pornographic sites in particular. Such sites must ensure that users are 18 years of age or older, but news sites are exempt from this requirement. Violators also face civil penalties of up to $50,000.

Tech industry groups have come out against the legislation. NetChoice – an association representing major social media platforms, Already embroiled in Supreme Court battle Working with state on a separate social media law — says before HB 3 is signedwill effectively impose an “Internet ID” Any Floridian who wants to use online services – regardless of their age. “

governor Reviewed early social media bill The bill would ban children under 16 from using social media accounts. Unlike the newly signed bill, the bill DeSantis vetoed would not have given parents the option to allow accounts for 14- and 15-year-olds.

“It is important to protect children from harm associated with social media, as well as to support parents’ rights and preserve the ability of adults to engage in anonymous speech,” DeSantis tweeted He vetoed the previous bill that day.

DeSantis has devoted much of his political capital to defending parents’ rights to the information their children can have. He signed the Parental Education Rights Act of 2022, which opponents called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans school admissions from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels.Another bill DeSantis approves Empower parents to challenge books in school libraries and reading lists.

Florida’s action follows moves by other states to limit teens’ social media access or require parents to know more about their children’s online activities. For example, last year, Utah governor signs law Both bills would require children under 18 to obtain parental consent to use social media and allow parents to access their children’s online posts and messages. Soon after, Arkansas governor approves bill Likewise, minors in the state require parental consent to open a social media account.

DeSantis has not shied away from regulating social media companies in the past. In 2021, he signed SB 7072, a law that requires social media companies to conduct content moderation in a “consistent” manner and prevents them from de-platforming political candidates and others. Called a news enterprise. The Supreme Court is currently considering whether the law violates the First Amendment Forcing private companies to speak out even if they don’t want to.

Florida House Speaker Paul Reina (right) said at the meeting Bill signing press conference On Monday, they took pains to avoid HB 3’s First Amendment issues. “You’re not going to find a single line in this bill that talks about good speech or bad speech, because that would violate the First Amendment,” Renner said. “We haven’t solved this problem yet. “What we are trying to solve are the addictive features that are at the core of why kids stay on these platforms for hours on end. “

Rayner likened the addictive nature of social media to drinking alcohol and said children don’t yet have the ability to self-regulate. “Unlike an adult who can make adult decisions, I need to drink less or stop drinking entirely.” Children at this stage of their brain development do not have the ability to know that they are being attracted to these addictive technologies, nor do they have the ability to see the harm. and stay away from it. Because of this, we must intervene with them. “

Legislation on how social media platforms protect young users has become increasingly popular over the past few years. A major proposal in the U.S. Senate is the Children’s Online Safety Act. The threshold of support needed to clear the chamber was recently passed, once voting is scheduled. Another Senate proposal, “Protection of Children on Social Media Act”, Children under 18 require parental consent to use social media.

Florida’s legislation will take effect on January 1 next year.

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