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New social media regulations in Utah try to push children’s use off

Allowable age verification methods tbd
New social media regulations in Utah try to push children’s use off

In a bold social experiment that could result in a gubernatorial recall, the U.S. state of Utah has made accessing social media as hard as possible for everyone but adults beginning next March.

Provisions in the new laws spill into privacy. Social media companies can no longer allow advertising to minors. Nor can they show a minor’s account in public searches.

Platforms must perform age verification on users opening or maintaining accounts in order to comply.  They could be required to demand a government-issued ID, but acceptable methods are yet to be established.

Utah Spencer Cox this week signed legislation requiring parents to consent to their children younger than 18 using social media, according to political news site The Hill. The experiment will be how many parents who demanded this will beg for repeal as children agitate and agitate for access.

It took the legislature two bills (both signed) to make this so. Utah is the first U.S. state to sign such laws, though concerns are common.

One requires children living in the state to get the express consent of a guardian to open a social media account. The second law outlaws a “design or feature” that caused social media addiction in minors.

That is not all. There is a curfew from 10:30 pm to 6:30 am during which young people will have to find something else to do – or get a guardian to consent to lift it. Vendors also must give parents the ability to set time limits for access.

The inclusion of parental permissions likely means the submission of the biographical information of children and their caregivers, and possibly birth certificates, to prove relationships. Records submitted by users for age verification and compliance with the various rules must be kept by the platforms.

A federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, already makes it illegal for companies to collect information on children younger than 13 without the approval of a guardian. In response, vendors themselves have banned those 12 and younger from getting accounts. That provision, at least, is widely considered impotent.

It is an interesting development from a state that decades ago popularized the derogatory phrase “the nanny state,” and the motto “The best government is no government.”

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