Kids to require parental consent to access social media apps under new Utah law – DNyuz

Kids to require parental consent to access social media apps under new Utah law

Children and teenagers in Utah are to lose access to social media apps such as TikTok if they don’t have parental consent and would face other restrictions under a first-in-the-nation law designed to shield young people from the addictive apps.

The two bills Utah Governor. Spencer Cox signed into law also prohibit kids under 18 from using social media between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., require age verification for anyone who wants to use social media in the state and seek to prevent tech companies from luring kids to their apps using addictive features.

The laws passed through Utah’s GOP-supermajority Legislature reflect changing perceptions of both Democrats and Republicans toward technology companies.

Tech companies like Google and Facebook have experienced unbridled growth over the past decade. However, legislators have started trying to regulate them. The law in Utah was also signed the day after TikTok CEO gave testimony before Congress on, among others, its effects on teens’ mental health.

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

Other Republican-leaning states, such as Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana, have similar proposals in the works, along with New Jersey. California passed a law in 2013 that requires tech companies to protect children’s safety by preventing them from using their personal data or profiling children.

Social media companies will likely need to create new features in order to meet the legal requirements to prevent minors from seeing their ads and promoting them through search engines. Tech companies like TikTok, Snapchat and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, make most of their money by targeting advertising to their users.

What’s not clear from the Utah bill and others is how the states plan to enforce the new regulations. Under the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, companies are prohibited from collecting any data about children who are 13. Social media platforms already prohibit children under 13 signing up for their services. However, this is something that can be easily circumvented by their parents, with or without their consent.

Cox stated that studies show children who spend too much time on social media have poor mental health. He stated that he remains optimistic about the possibility of passing legislation in Utah and across the nation that will significantly alter the relationships of children to these destructive social media applications.

Children’s advocacy groups generally welcomed the law, albeit with some caveats. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focusing on kids and technology, hailed the law aimed at reining in social media’s addictive features. Jim Steyer (CEO and co-founder of Common Sense) said that the law “adds momentum to other states to hold online social media companies responsible to protect children across the nation,”

He referred to the similar bills in California and New Jersey, and stated that the safety and mental health of children and teenagers depend on laws like these to hold tech companies accountable for making online experiences safer and more enjoyable. But Steyer stated that the Cox bill giving parents access the children’s posts on social media would “deprive the kids of the online privacy safeguards we support.” The law also requires age verification and parental consent for minors to create a social media account, which doesn’t get to the root of the problem – kids and teens will still be exposed to companies’ harmful data collection and design practices once they are on the platform.”

The laws are the latest effort from Utah lawmakers focused on children and the information they can access online. Two years ago, Cox signed legislation that called on tech companies to automatically block porn on cell phones and tablets sold, citing the dangers it posed to children. Amid concerns about enforcement, lawmakers in the deeply religious state revised the bill to prevent it from taking effect unless five other states passed similar laws.

The social media regulations are coming as lawmakers and parents are becoming more concerned about the use of platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and other apps on young people’s mental well-being.

It is set to take effect in March 2024, and Cox has previously said he anticipates social media companies will challenge it in court.

Tech industry lobbyists quickly decried the laws as unconstitutional, saying they infringe on people’s right to exercise the First Amendment online.

” Utah will soon demand online services to gather sensitive information about teens, families and parents, not only for verification of ages but also to verify parent relationships like birth certificates and government-issued IDs. This puts their personal data at risk. Nicole Saad Bembridge is an associate director at NetChoice.

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