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Louisiana passes bill requiring parental consent for children’s online accounts

Over the past year, state legislators concerned about the mental health crisis among the nation’s youth have passed a series of measures to protect children online. A New Utah Law Require social networks to obtain parental consent before giving an account to a child under 18 a new california law Many sites will be required to turn on the highest privacy settings for minors.

Now Louisiana lawmakers have passed an even more sweeping bill that could affect mass Internet access for minors in the state.

Louisiana Remedy Would prohibit online services — including social networks, multiplayer games and video-sharing apps — from allowing people under 18 to sign up for accounts without parental consent. It will also allow parents in Louisiana to cancel terms of service their kids signed up for with existing accounts on popular services like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Fortnite and Roblox.

Louisiana Civil Code Already allows parents to void contracts signed by unmarried minors. Laurie Schlegel, the Republican state legislator who spearheaded the new measure, said her bill made it clear that the state’s existing contract rules also cover accounts on online content-sharing platforms.

“This is already the law in Louisiana,” Ms. Schlegel said in an email, noting that young people may not have the ability to understand and agree to the many contract terms that online services often require to open an account. it occurs. “We are simply clarifying some irresponsible online companies that are contracting with minors without parental consent.”

On Tuesday, the Louisiana State Legislature passed the bill by a unanimous vote of 97 to 0. The state Senate had already passed the measure. The bill now requires approval by Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has not taken a public position on the measure. If he signs the bill, it will take effect on August 1 of the following year.

State bill comes two weeks after surgeon general issues it a public advisory alert Americans said social media posed a serious threat to young people’s mental health and urged policy makers to limit children’s access. Many parents may be concerned that their children are being influenced by inappropriate content or spending an unhealthy amount of time online.

TechNet, an industry group whose members include Meta, Snap, Google, Amazon, Apple and Uber, opposed the bill, saying it was overly broad and could cause friction for all users, including adults.

“The bill would require all users to provide proof of their age to comply with the law and require parents accessing the platform to provide proof that they are the minor’s parent,” states Texas and Texas said Servando Esparza, Executive Director of TechNet. Southeast, said in an emailed statement. “It could jeopardize privacy and lead to unintended consequences,” he said, noting that Louisiana legislators recently amended the bill to research the measure’s potential impact before it goes into effect. be necessary

The Louisiana online contract bill is part of a new wave of state laws passed this year regulating Internet services that could pose a risk to young people. And it underscores a growing effort among Republican state legislators to give families more control over their children’s online activities.

Last year, Ms. Schlegel led the passage of a Louisiana law that requires sexually explicit sites to verify that users in the state are 18 or older by checking credentials such as a verified digital driver’s license. Are. The law took effect in January.

Since then, at least five states – Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Utah and Virginia – have passed similar age-verification laws for pornography sites.

In March, Republican lawmakers in Utah initiated the passage of a restrictive social media bill That would require the social network to verify the user’s age and obtain parental consent for accounts of minors. The law also gives parents access to their child’s online posts and messages. Arkansas took a similar measure in April.

In May, the Free Speech Coalition, a group representing adult entertainment venues, sued utah to attempt to block the pornography age-verification bill on the grounds of freedom of expression, saying it violates Americans’ rights to view constitutionally protected information.

Civil liberties groups have raised similar concerns about sweeping child online protection bills, saying the measures could prevent young people from viewing information online.

The new Louisiana bill specifically requires social media, multiplayer games and other sites and apps not in the state to verify the age of users. And it doesn’t include specific penalties for companies that fail to comply.

Nevertheless, this may cause some online services that currently ask new users to provide their date of birth voluntarily to implement more stringent age-verification and parental consent procedures.

Like Ms. Schlegel’s pornography bill, the new online contracts bill could be widely copied. Many other states have similar rules regarding contracts with minors in their civil codes.

“It’s time for big tech to be more responsible for our online children,” Ms. Schlegel wrote. “The loss is real.”

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