On Tuesday, a judge in Ohio ruled that a state law that says minors need their parents’ permission to use social media goes against free speech rights.
Judge Algenon Marbley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio recently gave the green light to a temporary ban on Ohio’s Social Media Parental Notification Act. The law, passed just last month, says children under 16 will need their parents’ permission to join social media platforms.
A group of social media companies, such as the owners of TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat, have banded together and filed a lawsuit, saying the law goes too far and violates the rights of young people. He argued that the rule, which makes it so that users under the age of 16 must opt in to view anything on the sites, is unfair. And they won!
According to Judge Marbley, the law is like a big, blunt instrument that tries to protect children from bad content on social media. He agreed with the plaintiffs that the consent rule is unfair because it prevents people from saying what they want to say.
Republican Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine was not happy with the decision and said that there was a lot of evidence that teenagers using social media could have more depression and suicidal thoughts.
“The social media parental notification laws are reasonable, clear, narrowly tailored and have a legitimate purpose of providing safeguards and guidance for parents,” DeWine said in a statement Tuesday. “I believe in that approach.”
DeWine also urged the US Congress to step up and pass federal legislation in response to the decision that would impose similar restrictions on platforms that minors can access. The decision is a blow to Republican state initiatives aimed at limiting social media use, which they argue has a negative impact on mental health.
Utah recently passed a similar law that requires parents to give their children approval before they can use certain online platforms. NetChoice believes that this law is also against the Constitution. The US Supreme Court is currently considering two state laws that restrict how platforms can regulate political content. This decision is still pending and may impact the upcoming legal battle.
Critics say these state laws go too far in protecting children and that they overly regulate what can be posted on private online platforms. Judges have also been saying that a one-size-fits-all rule is unfair when it comes to individual rights in this complex area.
Ohio can’t get consent from parents now, but they’ll probably fight back and try to make things safer for kids on social media. This case shows how people are always debating about security, company control, and free speech online.