Utah’s Governor Spencer Cox has signed two new laws in the state which require those under the age of 18 to get parental consent in order to access social media, sets a 10:30 PM curfew for its use, and bans “addictive” design.
The bills — specifically H.B. 311 and S.B. 152 — form the basis of a new Utah Social Media Regulation Act, The Verge reports. The goal of the new laws is to protect children from what the state government describes as addictive features and targeted advertising found on social media platforms.
S.B. 152 requires social media platforms to enforce age verification for users in Utah and requires that if a user is a minor, they obtain parental consent to create an account. It would also prohibit minors from using social media between the hours of 10:30 PM and 6:30 AM and force companies to give parents tools that would allow them to set time limits for use of apps in a day. Social media companies would also be barred from displaying ads or targeted content to minors, collecting their personal information, or displaying their profiles in public search results.
H.B. 311 is particularly broad, as it prohibits a social media company from “using a design or feature that causes a minor to have an addiction.”
We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth. Today we signed two key bills in our fight against social media companies into law:
— Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox (@GovCox) March 23, 2023
Neither bill specifies how the state would enforce the regulations, although Governor Cox says he plans to work with social media companies to hammer out those details ahead of March 1, 2024, when the new laws would go into effect.
Governor Cox’s administration has set up a new website designed to help explain the new laws and showcase research on the effects of social media.
From @CNN: EFF said Utah’s specific set of rules are “dangerous” when it comes to user privacy and added that the bill will make user data less secure, make internet access less private, and infringe upon younger users’ basic rights.https://t.co/zLIUVQKJnZ
— EFF (@EFF) March 23, 2023
“Today’s signing of HB 311 is a huge victory for kids and families in Utah. And this law adds momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure kids across the country are protected online,” Common Sense, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families, says.
“Unfortunately, Governor Cox also signed SB 152 into law, which would give parents access to their minor children’s posts and all the messages they send and receive. This would deprive kids of the online privacy protections we advocate for. 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 expected to be challenged in court by tech companies as infringing on users’ First Amendment rights. It is also unclear how practical it would be for social media companies to make entirely new rules for their platforms for just one state — or if it would even be possible.