New bill would require parental consent for minors to use social media

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A new bipartisan bill unveiled on Wednesday would require parental consent for anyone under the age of 18 to use social media.

THE Social Media Child Protection Act would also prevent platforms from using algorithms to deliver content to minors and set the minimum age for using platforms at 13. It would also create a pilot program for a new age verification ID that could be used to register on social media platforms.

It’s the latest push by lawmakers to create new guardrails for children’s online safety, as several states have moved forward with their own laws aimed at protecting young voters from harm. Some of the recent state laws, like Utah’s, that would give parents access to children’s private messages, have raised concerns among some civil society groups that children may be further put at risk based on their family circumstances.

The new proposal, supported by Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., And Katie Britt, R-Ala., Would Give Parents Across The Country Deep New Control Over Their Children’s Access to social networking services like Meta Facebook and Instagram, Snap’s Snapchat and TikTok. Yet while many parents have pleaded for lawmakers to give them more tools to protect their children online, many also feel that monitoring their children’s online behavior has become too burdensome for parents.

In addition to parental consent to use social media, the bill requires these companies to “take reasonable steps beyond simply requiring certification” to verify the age of users. This is likely to raise privacy concerns given that it can be difficult to downgrade a user’s age without some sort of government identification or facial analysis. The bill states that “existing age verification technologies” must be taken into account and that information collected for age verification purposes must not be used for any other purpose.

While age verification tools are still somewhat limited, the bill also aims to expand them through a pilot program to explore free “secure digital ID” credentials for American citizens.

The program would be run by the Department of Commerce and would seek to create a new, highly secure identification tool based on government-issued documents that, once issued, could be used to verify the age of users for media platforms. registered social workers, or their parent/guardian. relationship with a minor user.

Shortly after the bill was announced, technology-backed industry group NetChoice, which has sued California over its age-appropriate design code, criticized the legislation in a statement, saying it ” would require massive and widespread data collection and retention, compromising the privacy of Americans.” and security. It would also rob parents of their constitutional right to make decisions about what is best for their children online.

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