Florida Passes Age Restriction Rules for Internet

John Lister's picture

Florida law now says under-14s can't use social media while 14 and 15-year-olds need parental permission. The controversial law takes effect from the start of 2025 but may still be challenged in the Supreme Court.

The new state law says social media platforms must delete any existing account held by somebody aged under 14 as well as prevent under 14s from opening a new one. Supporters of the law said children of this age weren't mature enough to understand the "addictive technologies" of such sites and make an informed choice whether to use them.

Hefty Penalties

For those aged 14 or 15, parent or guardian consent is needed to open a new account. Either the child or the parent/guardian can ask for an existing account to be closed. The company must do so within five business days.

If they fail to do so, they could be sued on behalf of the child and have to pay them up to $10,000 in damages. That could create a bizarre incentive for families to create and close accounts in the hope of cashing in. Companies that violate this rule in a "knowing or reckless" way could also be fined up to $50,000 for unfair trade practices. (Source: theverge.com)

Originally the law would have completely banned 15 and 16-year-olds from using social media sites that tracked user activity or included "addictive features." Florida governor Ron DeSantis refused to approve the law until that rule was removed.

Age Verification For All

Commercial websites on which at least a third of the content is "material harmful to minors" will have to make sure users are 18, with a $50,000 penalty for violations. While it's unlikely they'd meet the threshold, news sites are specifically exempted from this rule.

That rule has gone down particularly badly with tech firms who say adults should be able to access websites freely without having to prove their age and, indirectly, their identity.

Tech companies are expected to challenge the law on First Amendment grounds. Lawmakers believe that's not relevant as they specifically wrote the law to restrict access to sites based on the nature of the technology rather than the content. (Source: apnews.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you support the law? Do you think it will survive court challenges? Should age laws affect some websites but not others?

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ronangel1's picture

Gone with the next president, as money and votes come first!

Chief's picture

Instead of being a sage that no one listens to, why don't you explain why the next President won't care about the welfare of children and how we can change that?

A good law is not a good law because of the political affiliation of its sponsors.

Let's go with what is good and right for Floridians and hopefully soon, for all Americans.

eric's picture

The worst thing about this Florida law is that it has caused me to agree with DeSantis on something.

For all the ridiculous stupidity and downright unAmerican stuff that comes from DeSantis and Florida republitards, this law is really a good thing for the children. TBH, I think it should be expanded to include parental responsibility as well.

I cannot see how there is any possible 1st amendment claim.