State lawmakers in Louisiana passed a new bill Tuesday banning minors from creating their own social media accounts.
The bill, HB61, would ban “interactive computer services” from allowing people under 18 to sign up for their own accounts without parental consent. The bill’s definition of online services is extremely broad, seemingly barring minors from creating social media accounts on sites like Instagram, accessing popular online games like Roblox and Fortnite, or even registering for an email address. The bill also goes as far as allowing parents to cancel the terms of service contracts their children entered into when signing up for existing accounts.
As of publication, it’s unclear how the state plans to enforce these new rules, but it calls on state entities to review the bill and provide feedback before it would go into effect.
The Louisiana State Legislature passed the bill unanimously on Tuesday, sending it to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk for final approval. The ban would go into effect August 1st of next year if he chooses to sign it.
“It violates First Amendment rights, takes away parental rights for their families and requires massive data collection on all Louisiana citizens.”
“We are hopeful that Governor Edwards will veto this bill. It violates First Amendment rights, takes away parental rights for their families and requires massive data collection on all Louisiana citizens,” NetChoice vice president and general counsel Carl Szabo said in a statement Thursday.
Louisiana is just one of a handful of states that have passed tough regulations for children online over the last year. In March, Utah passed a measure requiring minors to obtain the consent of a guardian before using social media. In April, Arkansas passed a similar bill. Some states like California have taken a less restrictive path, requiring tech companies to turn on their highest privacy settings by default for young users.
Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas have also considered similar legislation.
Like the Louisiana and Utah bills, many of these measures would force social media companies to verify the age of users before allowing them to create accounts, oftentimes requiring people to submit a photo ID. The Louisiana bill does not explicitly require sites to implement an age verification program.
Members of the US Congress have also introduced similar measures under new pressure from the White House. In April, a group of senators put out the Protecting Kids on Social Media Act, a bill that would ban kids under 13 from social media and establish a nationwide age verification pilot program.
For years, civil rights groups, tech companies, and the government have tried to find ways to check a user’s age while protecting the privacy of other parts of their lives. Groups like Fight for the Future have also argued that under-18 social media bans could put children from marginalized backgrounds at risk, removing their access to beneficial resources online.
“It’s true that Big Tech’s advertising model hurts kids and teens,” Fight for the Future said in a call for people to tell their elected officials not to pass online age restrictions. “But age-gating all social media, for anyone under 18?That won’t solve the problem, and it’s a direct attack on millions of young people’s First Amendment rights.”
Source: The Verge