Video: The governor of Utah has signed a bill into law that requires juveniles to get parental permission before using social media.

Image by antonbe from Pixabay

Utah Governor Spencer Cox approved legislation restricting minors’ access to social media on Thursday. Children under the age of eighteen will now need their parents’ permission to use social media. Utah is the first state to enact such legislation, but four others are contemplating doing the same: Ohio, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Arkansas.

Under the new Utah Social Media Regulation Act, two new laws were enacted on February 28, 2019 (H.B. 311 and S.B. 152) and will go into effect on March 1, 2024. Social media businesses risk civil and criminal penalties if they are not in compliance by this date.

According to Utah legislation, any Utah resident who creates a social media profile must have their age confirmed by the platform. All profiles created by users under the age of 18 require parental approval. Parents have a legal right to view their children’s activity on social media sites. The hours of enforced silence are 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Legislation is in the books to shield kids from predatory marketing and compulsive features.

NBC cited Utah state senator Michael McKell as saying, “This is the time in American history where mental health has been so problematic,” adding that he hoped similar action would be taken elsewhere.

One of the bills’ co-sponsors, state representative Jordan Teuscher, said that social media companies employed a lot of lobbyists to try to kill the bill, but they failed.

The legislation has been criticized for being too broad and having consequences beyond Utah’s borders. Free speech counsel for tech policy think tank TechFreedom, Ari Cohn, told the outlet that social media would have to age verify everyone to comply with the legislation. Cohn added that this could cause worries about retaliation for online expression, parental abuse, problems with equality, and other concerns.

There are presently two bills in Congress that could limit young people’s access to social media. Included is a stipulated cutoff for unsupervised social media use by minors.

CWEB has provided some information for this story.

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