Texas passed a new law yesterday that prohibits users under the age of 18 from using or creating social media accounts without the prior consent of an adult. The document obliges digital service providers to obtain the consent of parents or guardians before allowing children to open an account.
Here is how the state representatives commented on the introduction of this law:
Our children are experiencing all sorts of harm from over-exposure to digital platforms and predatory algorithms, which translates into an increase in self-harm, suicide, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and other mental health issues.
The law obliges digital service providers to develop and implement a system that will protect minors from all of the problems listed above. In addition, parents should have access to special tools that will allow them to control their child’s social networks and, for example, technically limit the time spent on them.
It is curious that the law itself is written rather vaguely. It states that we are talking about “websites, applications, programs or software that collects or processes personally identifiable information when connected to the Internet”, that following social networks, restrictions may affect the entire Internet.
Of course, large companies like Google opposed the law, but their opinion was ignored.