Washington – Legislation introduced in the Senate would require parental consent for teens 13-17 years old to use social media, ban social media for those under 13, and require all users of social media to verify their ages.
The bill from Sens. Brian Schatz, D-HI, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark, the “Protecting Kids on Social Media Act” is similar to legislation that passed in Arkansas and Utah earlier this month that requires consent for teens to use social media.
Young people are guaranteed the constitutional right of free speech and this proposal could limit young activists and marginalized communities that are using social media to organize, speak out, and successfully lobby legislatures to pass new laws.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association supports the enactment of comprehensive privacy legislation at the federal level, and efforts to bolster media literacy and digital citizenship programs as established by recent legislation in New Jersey and an initiative led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:
“We support lawmakers’ attention to this important issue and appreciate the importance of parents and younger users jointly deciding what is appropriate use of online services. Keeping young users safe online is a broadly shared goal, but this legislation could potentially hinder access to valuable resources, supportive communities, and important youth-led activism on social media.
“Mandates to verify user age without any basic certainty on what meets this requirement may result in depriving users of economically and socially valuable products. Age verification technology does not currently have effective measures to test age without more invasive data collecting mechanisms. These rules will result in compliance systems that retain even more new data on young people and adults, whenever a person signs up for a service.
“We look forward to working with the committee on compliance issues so that companies don’t need to overly censor or collect verification data to avoid liability.”