Tech & Science

Utah social media law means kids need approval from parents

Salt Lake City –

Utah children and teens will no longer be able to access social media apps such as TikTok without parental consent, under the nation’s first law designed to protect young people from addictive platforms. and you will face other limitations.

Two laws signed into law by Republican Gov. Spencer Cox ban children under the age of 18 from using social media on Thursdays between 10:30 p.m. Anyone who asks for age verification and opens the door. They file lawsuits on behalf of children who claim that social media has harmed them. I’m trying to

The companies plan to file lawsuits before the law takes effect in March 2024.

The anti-social media campaign in Utah’s Republican-majority Congress reflects how politicians’ perceptions of tech companies, typically business-minded Republicans, have changed. .

Tech giants such as Facebook and Google have enjoyed unbridled growth for more than a decade, but lawmakers have been criticized amid concerns over user privacy, hate speech, misinformation and its negative impact on teen mental health. began massing Big Tech attacks into the campaign trail. Trying to curb them once in the office. The Utah law was signed into law the same day TikTok’s CEO testified before Congress about, among other things, the platform’s impact on the mental health of teenagers.

But legislation at the federal level has stalled, forcing states to intervene.

Outside of Utah, lawmakers in red states like Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana, and blue states like New Jersey are pushing similar proposals. On the other hand, California last year protected children’s safety by banning tech companies from profiling children or using their personal information in ways that could harm them physically or emotionally. We enacted a law that obliges us to prioritize.

New Utah law also requires parents to be able to access their children’s accounts. They outline rules for people who want to sue for damages they claim their apps have caused. , would require social media companies to certify that their products are not harmful.

Social media companies may need to design new features to comply with some laws against advertising to minors and showing them in search results. Tech companies like TikTok, Snapchat, and Meta, which own Facebook and Instagram, make money from targeted advertising to their users.

A wave of legislation and a focus on age verification has attracted backlash from tech companies and digital privacy groups known for blowing up data collection practices.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this month asked Cox to veto a Utah law, saying time limits and age verification violate teens’ rights to free speech and privacy. In addition, verifying the age of all users will allow the social media platform to provide more data, such as government-issued identification required, they said.

If the law goes into effect, digital privacy advocacy groups said in a statement, “Most of Utah’s youth will be effectively shut out of much of the web.”

Tech industry lobbyists denounced these laws as unconstitutional, accusing them of violating the right to exercise the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution online.

“The state of Utah will soon introduce a law enforcement agency not only to verify age, but to collect sensitive information about teens and family members, such as government-issued identification and birth certificates, to verify parental relationships. Requesting online services would put their personal data at risk of compromise.Mr. Bembridge is an associate director at NetChoice, a tech lobby group.

What’s unclear about Utah’s new law and legislation being considered elsewhere is how the state plans to implement the new regulation. We are already prohibited from collecting data about children under the age of 13 without parental consent. In response, social media companies have already banned children under the age of 13 from signing up on their platforms.

Cox said research shows that time spent on social media “worsens mental health outcomes” for children.

“We are very optimistic that we will be able to pass legislation not just here in Utah, but across the country that will profoundly change the relationship between these highly destructive social media apps and our children.

This set of laws garnered support from parent groups and child advocates and was generally welcomed, but with a few caveats. Common Sense Media, a children- and technology-focused nonprofit, applauded efforts to curb social media’s addictive features and set rules for litigation, with its CEO saying, “Other states will “It will add momentum to hold social media companies accountable and urge them to ensure that children are protected around the world.” The country is protected online. “

But Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense, said that giving parents access to their children’s social media posts “deprives them of the online privacy protections we advocate.” ‘ said. Age verification and parental consent can deter children from creating accounts on certain platforms, but they do little to stop companies from collecting data once they have created an account.

The law is the latest effort by Utah legislators to focus on the vulnerabilities of children in the digital age. Two years ago, Cox signed a law requiring tech companies to automatically block porn on phones and tablets sold in the state. The majority are members of the church after a debate over the dangers porn poses to children resonated among Utah legislators. Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Amid enforcement concerns, legislators eventually amended the law so that it will not go into effect unless similar laws are passed in five of her other states.

The regulation has raised concerns among parents and lawmakers about children and teenagers’ use of social media and how platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and others are impacting the mental health of young people. It was born from The dangers of social media for children have emerged as a focus for barristers, with addiction lawsuits being filed across the country.


Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.

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