Federal Judge Blocks Law Requiring Age Verification for Social Media

by Katelynn Richardson


A federal judge blocked an Arkansas law Thursday that requires age verification for social media users.

Arkansas’ Social Media Safety Act, which restricts minors from creating social media accounts without parental consent, was scheduled to take effect Friday. U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Arkansas Timothy Brooks, an Obama appointee, sided with NetChoice, a group that includes companies like Google and TikTok, and temporarily blocked the law from being enforced.

“Because Act 689 contains terms too vague to be reasonably understood, NetChoice members are likely to suffer irreparable harm if the Act goes into effect,” the judge wrote. “It is unclear which NetChoice members will be subject to regulation, and several terms that are pivotal to NetChoice members’ compliance with Act 689 are undefined or subject to multiple interpretations.”

Brooks wrote that the law is also “likely to abridge the First Amendment rights of users of NetChoice’s members’ platforms.”

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he is disappointed in the ruling but will “vigorously defend the law and protect our children, an important interest recognized in the federal judge’s order today.”

“We’re pleased the court sided with the First Amendment and stopped Arkansas’ unconstitutional law from censoring free speech online and undermining the privacy of Arkansans, their families and their businesses as our case proceeds,” said Chris Marchese, director of the NetChoice Litigation Center, in a statement. “We look forward to seeing the law struck down permanently.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case in July backing NetChoice’s request for a preliminary injunction.

“Requiring individuals to verify their ages before using social media will impose significant burdens on the exercise of First Amendment rights online,” the brief argued.

Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the bill into law in April. In March, Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed the first law in the nation requiring minors to receive parental consent before opening a social media account in March, which is scheduled to take effect in March 2024.

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Katelynn Richardson is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. 




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