A bill has been passed by the Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday that states to require social media companies to confirm their users’ ages and verify if minors have permission from their parents or guardian before opening any social media account.
According to a tweet from the Arkansas House account, the Social Media Safety Act was passed by a vote of 82-10 and adds the actions made by the state and federal lawmakers to restrain social media platforms and safeguard children online.
“It is a bill designed to create a level of protection for our young people,” Republican Rep. Jon Eubanks, the bill’s House sponsor, said before representatives approved the measure without any debate.
This proposal is identical to a first-in-the-nation law that Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed last month. Many states are making an effort to consider similar steps to protect children in their countries.
Last month, Sanders announced her utmost support for the bill which requires age verification and parental consent before opening any account under the age of 18. This measure would require social media companies to sign an agreement with a third party to confirm the age of the person.
The step was taken because of the rising worries among parents and lawmakers about kids’ and teenagers’ social media accounts that affect their mental and physical health.
“This is just common sense. One ill-advised moment online can mean a lifetime of pain offline,” Sanders said at a news conference announcing the legislation. “Kids are not prepared for that kind of responsibility, and they’re certainly not prepared for the world of dangerous content that big tech companies make readily available.”
Furthermore, this bill is enacted only for those social media platforms that generate more than $100 million in yearly earnings. After the signature of Sanders, the measure will come into force by September.
The opponents have raised their concerns that such restrictions will raise privacy concerns, as users of every age have to verify their age.
“People in Arkansas should not have to hand over their driver’s license just to access free websites,” Jason Kelley with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a statement. “By forcing people to do so, the law essentially stops people in the state from accessing vast parts of the web unless the government approves it.”
Another concern raised by the opposition is whether the lawmakers are ready for unintended outcomes, especially for those youth who are already facing any kind of mental health issues.
“There are far better ways to solve this problem than legislating the government-mandated collection of sensitive personal information, which could unintentionally limit access to online communities that provide health and education resources and increase opportunities for fraudulent actors to seek sensitive data from consumers,” Ruthie Barko, executive director for the central U.S. for TechNet, a group of technology CEOs and senior executives, said in a statement.