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Tech group sues Arkansas over law requiring parental OK for minors creating social media accounts

by Andrew Wright
5 comments
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Tech Industry Trade Group Challenges Arkansas Law Requiring Parental Consent for Minors’ Social Media Accounts

On Thursday, a prominent trade group representing the tech industry filed a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas, contesting a newly enacted law that mandates parental permission for minors to create social media accounts.

NetChoice, the trade group comprised of companies like Meta (the parent company of Facebook), TikTok, and Twitter, lodged a federal lawsuit against the legislation signed by Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders in April. The law necessitates social media companies to collaborate with third-party vendors to conduct age verification checks on new users. This requirement is slated to go into effect on September 1.

According to the lawsuit, the trade group argues that this new obligation violates the constitutional rights of users and discriminates against certain types of speech that would be subject to restrictions.

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“The law known as S.B. 396 imposes burdensome obligations on ‘social media companies’ that excessively impede both minors’ and adults’ First Amendment rights to express, listen, and associate freely, without government interference, on the widely utilized online platforms it encompasses,” stated the lawsuit.

Arkansas’ law resembles a pioneering regulation that was enacted earlier this year in Utah, but it will not be enforceable until March 2024. In the previous year, NetChoice initiated legal action against a California law that required tech firms to prioritize children’s safety by forbidding them from profiling or using personal information in ways that could harm children physically or mentally.

Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin, the defendant named in the lawsuit, expressed his anticipation of “vigorous defense” of the law.

This legal challenge emerges at a time when social media companies are facing increased scrutiny regarding the impact of their platforms on the mental health of teenagers—an issue Governor Sanders cited while advocating for the legislation. Sanders declared her confidence in Griffin’s ability to defend the law.

“For years, social media companies have taken advantage of children, with proven negative effects on their mental health,” stated Sanders in a press release. “I made a promise to hold Big Tech accountable in order to protect children and empower parents.”

Last month, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy cautioned that there is insufficient evidence to establish the safety of social media for children and teenagers, calling on tech companies to promptly take action to safeguard children. On Tuesday, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced the implementation of new parental supervision tools and privacy features on its platforms.

Earlier this year, the state of Arkansas filed lawsuits against Meta and TikTok, alleging that these social media companies misled consumers about the safety of children on their platforms and the protection of users’ private data.

Arkansas’ restrictions will apply solely to social media platforms generating over $100 million in annual revenue. Certain platforms, including LinkedIn, Google, and YouTube, are exempt from these regulations.

The lawsuit contends that the distinctions made in the legislation between platforms required to adhere to age verification requirements and those exempt from it “lack logical or practical sense.”

Social media companies found to be knowingly violating the age verification requirement may be subject to a fine of $2,500 per violation under the new law. The law also forbids social media companies and third-party vendors from retaining users’ identifying information once they have been granted access to the platform.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about social media accounts

What is the lawsuit filed by NetChoice against Arkansas about?

NetChoice, a tech industry trade group, has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas challenging a new law that requires parental permission for minors to create social media accounts. They argue that the law violates users’ constitutional rights and singles out certain types of speech.

What does the Arkansas law require social media companies to do?

The Arkansas law mandates social media companies to contract with third-party vendors for age verification checks on new users. This requirement is set to go into effect on September 1.

Why does NetChoice argue that the Arkansas law violates constitutional rights?

NetChoice argues that the law imposes burdensome obligations on social media companies, impeding both minors’ and adults’ First Amendment rights to speak, listen, and associate freely on widely used online platforms.

How does the Arkansas law compare to the legislation in Utah?

The Arkansas law is similar to a first-in-the-nation restriction enacted in Utah. However, the Utah law will not be enforceable until March 2024.

What is the response of Arkansas’ Attorney General to the lawsuit?

Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin, named as the defendant in the lawsuit, expressed his intention to vigorously defend the law against the legal challenge.

Why did Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders support the law?

Governor Sanders cited concerns about the impact of social media on teen mental health as a motivation behind the legislation. She aims to hold Big Tech accountable, protect children, and empower parents.

What actions have social media companies taken in response to concerns about children’s safety?

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on tech companies to take immediate action to protect kids. Meta (formerly Facebook) recently announced the addition of parental supervision tools and privacy features on its platforms.

What are the penalties for social media companies violating the age verification requirement under the Arkansas law?

Social media companies found to be knowingly violating the age verification requirement may face a fine of $2,500 for each violation.

Which social media platforms are exempt from the Arkansas law?

The Arkansas law applies only to social media platforms generating over $100 million in annual revenue. Certain platforms, including LinkedIn, Google, and YouTube, are exempt from these regulations.

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5 comments

TechGeek17 June 30, 2023 - 5:28 am

lol can’t believe they want parents permission for social media accounts for kids. let them have fun!

Reply
GrammarNazi42 June 30, 2023 - 7:45 am

There are so many grammar and spelling errors in this text it’s hard to take it seriously. Where’s the proofreading?

Reply
InfoSeeker June 30, 2023 - 1:31 pm

I wonder how this lawsuit will play out and what it means for the future of social media regulations. Can’t wait to see the outcome.

Reply
JaneDoe June 30, 2023 - 2:32 pm

tech group sue arkansas over law requiring parental ok for minors creating social media accounts wow thats a big deal

Reply
SocialMediaWatcher June 30, 2023 - 7:30 pm

Finally, someone is taking a stand against social media companies exploiting kids. It’s about time!

Reply

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