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Judge Blocks Ohio's Parental Consent Requirement for Social Media

'I am disappointed in this injunction and hope it will be lifted ... so these important protections for children can take effect,' said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

Judge Blocks Ohio's Parental Consent Requirement for Social Media

An Ohio judge has temporarily blocked a law requiring minors to get parental consent before using social media apps.

Major social media platforms, including TikTok, Snapchat, and Meta, have opposed Ohio’s Social Media Parental Notification Act. The policy was scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 15 and would require platforms to obtain parental consent before permitting accounts to be created by anyone age 16 or younger.

United States District Court Judge Algenon Marbley granted a temporary restraining order sought by NetChoice, a trade group representing the platforms, after ruling that that state will probably not be able to show its law is “narrowly tailored to any ends that it identifies.”

“Foreclosing minors under sixteen from accessing all content on websites that the Act purports to cover, absent affirmative parental consent, is a breathtakingly blunt instrument for reducing social media’s harm to children,” he wrote, per AP News

NetChoice filed a lawsuit on Jan. 5, arguing that the law “would require an arbitrary subset of websites to secure ‘verifiable’ parental consent through a state-approved means before allowing minors under 16 to create accounts or otherwise access those services” and asked the court to declare the policy unconstitutional.

The trade group argued that “the Act would place a significant hurdle on some minors’ ability to access and engage in speech” on sites like Dreamwidth, Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, Pinterest, Threads, X, and YouTube.

“The Act violates the Constitution and deprives Plaintiff, its members, and its members’ users of enforceable federal rights, causing them irreparable harm. Federal courts have the power to enjoin unlawful actions by state officials,” stated the lawsuit. “This Court can and should exercise its equitable power to enter an injunction prohibiting Defendant from enforcing the Act and any of the challenged provisions of the Act against Plaintiff and its members.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted proposed the Social Media Parental Notification Act in June. DeWine and Husted argued the policy would assist with additional mental health-focused initiatives that the state government hoped to enact to protect young people online.

We're going to get it done state by state until we force the issue to occur or hopefully the companies are going to go begging the federal government,” Husted said at a press conference, per WTOL.

The policy did not require social media platforms to inform parents about accounts created by minors before the law was in effect. Parents must electronically sign a form explicitly permitting minors to make accounts.

Governor DeWine expressed his disappointment in Judge Marbley’s decision and said that “parents should have a role in their children’s social media use.”

“The negative effects that social media sites and apps have on our children’s mental health have been well documented, and this law was one way to empower parents to have a role in their kids’ digital lives,” he said in a press release on Jan. 9. “I am disappointed in this injunction and hope it will be lifted as the case further proceeds so these important protections for children can take effect.”

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