Ohio faces a legal battle as major tech companies, including TikTok and Snapchat, filed a lawsuit against the state’s impending law requiring parental consent for children under 16 to use social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, including gaming platforms and message boards.
Scheduled to take effect on January 15, the Social Media Parental Notification Act, designed to protect youth mental health from what certain lawmakers deem as ‘intentionally addictive’ features, is now facing opposition from the NetChoice group. The law directs technology, social media, and gaming companies to identify users under 16, obtain parental consent, share privacy guidelines, deny access without consent, and provide parents with content moderation features.
While they argue that the law violates free speech rights and insist that educational resources are enough to prevent harm, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted of Ohio criticizes the legal challenge, accusing tech companies of putting profits ahead of the well-being of children. The Ohio law will remain in effect unless a court intervenes, with the legal case currently pending in the United States District Court’s Southern District of Ohio.
Why does it matter?
This legal dispute marks a significant development in the ongoing debate over regulating children’s online activity. Judges temporarily stopped similar rules in Arkansas and California when NetChoice filed similar lawsuits, highlighting a recurring trend. Despite laws emerging at the state level, several federal bills, such as the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and the Protecting Kids on Social Media Act, address child safety on social media. However, these bills have raised concerns regarding privacy invasion and the potential creation of digital IDs. Depending on the outcome of the lawsuit in Ohio, this could intensify demands for federal legislation.