Utah just passed a bill that will force children to get parental consent before joining social media platforms

Utah just passed a bill that will force children to get parental consent before joining social media platforms
Utah's governor Spencer Cox introduced a bill requiring social media companies to have a curfew for minors.Matt Cardy/Getty Images
  • Utah's governor Spencer Cox passed legislation restricting teenagers' access to social media.
  • The new bill requires social media firms to obtain parental consent before children can open accounts.

The governor of Utah signed a bill on Thursday that seriously restricts teenagers' access to social media platforms.

Republican Governor Spencer Cox passed the Social Media Regulation Act, which aims to force social media companies to verify the age of all Utah residents before they can sign up for or maintain a social media account.

The bill requires companies to obtain parental approval before minors can open a social media account, and establish a curfew for those under-18 to restrict access between 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

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The law, which is set to come into effect in March 2024, will ban social media firms from targeting or displaying advertisements to minors; suggesting content or accounts; and collecting, sharing, or using personal information from a minor's account.

The proposal first introduced by Republican Senator Michael McKell.


When contacted about the bill, Governor Cox's office referred Insider to a press conference he hosted on Thursday.

"We want teens to be safe online," a Meta spokesperson said. "We've developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including tools that let parents and teens work together to limit the amount of time teens spend on Instagram, and age verification technology that helps teens have age-appropriate experiences.

"We automatically set teens' accounts to private when they join Instagram, and we send notifications encouraging them to take regular breaks. We don't allow content that promotes suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, and of the content we remove or take action on, we identify over 99% of it before it's reported to us."

TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider, while Twitter sent an automatic response of a single poop emoji, as it does to all messages sent to its press email address.

The Associated Press reported that social media companies will likely sue to stop the law going into effect.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization protecting civil liberties online, published an opposition letter to McKell's initial proposal on March 6 arguing that young people have a "First Amendment Right to Information," and many use online platforms for educational purposes.

It wrote: "Under S.B. 152. before any minor can access the content on many of the most popular of these sites, they would have to get permission from a parent. This may make sense for a seven-year-old, but requiring the same restrictions for a seventeen-year-old greatly interferes both with the child's rights and the parent's."

It added that young people's privacy will become vulnerable, for example, those trying to obtain information about sexual health, reproductive rights, and gender identity won't be able to in certain households.

Alongside Utah, states like Connecticut and Ohio have also tried to introduce similar legislation.

Lawmakers have been trying to protect children on social media for years, marking back to a 1998 bill, The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevented platforms from collecting the personal data of kids under the age of 13.


But it's been argued that the bill needs amending in recent years.

"Big Tech has a voracious appetite for kids' attention and data, and these companies have no problem prioritizing their own profits over children and teens' right to privacy," Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, an original author of the law, wrote in a press release in 2021, per Insider.