• Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law on April 12, 2023, which mandates parental permission for minors to create new social media accounts.
  • NetChoice, a tech group consisting of members such as Meta, TikTok, and Twitter, is suing the state of Arkansas over this newly enacted law.
  • The lawsuit filed by NetChoice argues that this law infringes upon the constitutional rights of social media users and specifically targets certain forms of speech.

A trade group representing the tech industry has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas challenging a law that requires parental permission for minors to create social media accounts. ARKANSAS GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON SAYS POTENTIAL 2024 PRESIDENTIAL BID FOR REPUBLICAN PARTY ‘ON THE TABLE’

NetChoice, a group consisting of Facebook parent Meta, TikTok, and Twitter, has lodged a federal lawsuit against the measure signed by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in April. The law requires social media companies to partner with external vendors to conduct age verification checks on new users, and this requirement is set to take effect on September 1.

The lawsuit argues that this new requirement violates users’ constitutional rights and unfairly limits certain types of speech.

Arkansas’ law is similar to a first-of-its-kind restriction enacted earlier this year in Utah, which will not be implemented until March 2024. NetChoice previously filed a lawsuit contesting a California law that prioritizes children’s safety by prohibiting tech companies from profiling or using their personal information in ways that could harm them physically or mentally.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs a bill requiring age verification before creating a new social media account at a ceremony on April 12, 2023, in Little Rock, Arkansas. (Thomas Metthe/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin, named as the defendant in the lawsuit, expressed his determination to “vigorously defend” the law.

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As social media companies continue to face growing scrutiny for their impact on the mental health of teenagers, Sarah Huckabee Sanders highlighted these concerns as she championed the legislation. The governor asserted her confidence in Griffin’s ability to defend the law.

“Social media companies have exploited children for years, and this has had a detrimental effect on their mental well-being,” said Sanders in a statement. “I made a promise to hold Big Tech accountable in order to protect children and empower parents.”

Last month, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy cautioned that there is insufficient evidence to deem social media a safe space for children and teenagers. He called on tech companies to take “immediate action to protect kids now.” Meta recently announced the addition of parental supervision tools and privacy features to its platforms.

Earlier this year, Arkansas filed lawsuits against Meta and TikTok, alleging that these social media companies deceived consumers about the safety of children on their platforms and the safeguarding of users’ private data.

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Arkansas’ restrictions only apply to social media platforms generating over $100 million in annual revenue, and certain platforms like LinkedIn, Google, and YouTube are exempt from the law.

The lawsuit argues that the distinctions made by the legislation between platforms required to adhere to the age-verification requirement and those that are not “serve no logical purpose in theory or practice.”

Social media companies found to knowingly violate the age verification requirement could face a $2,500 fine per violation under the new law. Additionally, the law prohibits these companies and third-party vendors from retaining users’ identifying information after granting access to the social media site.

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