Arkansas Judge Blocks Law Limiting Social Media Usage

( – A law that was set to go into effect on September 1st that would have given Arkansas parents a say in their children’s social media activity has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. The legislation would have required children to obtain parental consent before being permitted to create accounts with various social media outlets.

Judge Timothy Brooks of Arkansas’ Western District signed off on a preliminary injunction that was granted in response to a request from NetChoice, a trade group that represents a number of behemoths in the tech industry. In their motion, the organization argued that the new law would violate the free speech rights of minors found in the First Amendment.

In a statement responding to the judge’s actions, NetChoice’s director of litigation said they were pleased and framed the issue as being a matter of “censoring free speech” in online settings. “The privacy” of residents in the state will be undermined should the law go into effect, their director further stated.

In March, Utah became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to require a child to have parental permission prior to opening any social media accounts. While the legislation has been passed, it is not slated to become active until March of 2024.

Many are unaware of a second related law passed by Utah legislators that will see civil fines as high as $250,000 imposed on companies that target minors with “addictive” features. The legislation was reportedly drafted to protect the “mental health” of teenagers.

In the case of both Utah laws, NetChoice is anticipated to be planning action against the state government similar to that taken in Arkansas. The company recently announced that they have started a “litigation center” in the state.

Not to be underestimated, NetChoice counts some 35 household-named companies among their membership roster. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Airbnb, Google, Amazon, Paypal, Lyft, eBay, and Stubhub are all represented by the organization.

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