Judge Blocks Arkansas Law Requiring Parental OK For Minors To Create Social Media Accounts

An anonymous reader cited an Associated Press report: A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked Arkansas from implementing a new law it was supposed to have parental consent required for minors to create new social media accounts, preventing the state from becoming the first to impose such a restriction. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks issued a preliminary injunction that NetChoice — a tech industry trade group whose members include TikTok, Facebook parent Meta and X, formerly known as Twitter — had sought against the law. The measure, which Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law in April, was set to take effect Friday.

In a 50-page ruling, Brooks said NetChoice would likely succeed in challenging the constitutionality of the Arkansas law and questioned the effectiveness of the restrictions. “Age-restricting social media platforms for adults and minors does not appear to be an effective approach when, in fact, the content on certain platforms is what is of real concern to the state,” wrote Brooks, who was appointed to the judgeship by former President Barack Obama. NetChoice argued that the requirement violated consumers’ constitutional rights and arbitrarily specified the types of speech that would be restricted.

Arkansas’ restrictions would have applied only to social media platforms that generate more than $100 million in annual revenue. It also wouldn’t apply to certain platforms, including LinkedIn, Google and YouTube. Brooks’ ruling said the exemptions nullified the state’s intent to impose the restrictions and that the law also did not adequately define which platforms they would apply to. As an example, he cited confusion over whether social media platform Snapchat would be subject to the age verification requirement. Social media companies that knowingly violate the age verification requirement would face a $2,500 fine for each violation under the now-blocked law. The law also prohibits social media companies and third-party providers from retaining identifying information about users after they have been granted access to the social media site. In a statement to X, Sanders wrote: “Big tech companies are putting our children’s lives at risk. They are pushing an addictive product that has been shown to increase depression, loneliness and anxiety and put our children in the crosshairs of human traffickers. Today’s court decision delaying this necessary protection is disappointing, but I am confident that the Attorney General will vigorously defend the law and protect our children.”

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