Lawsuit Challenges Ohio’s Social Media Parental Notification Act, Claiming Unconstitutionality

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A lawsuit has been filed against the state of Ohio, challenging the implementation of the Social Media Parental Notification Act, as announced by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. The upcoming law, set to take effect in less than two weeks, aims to restrict young people’s access to social media with a focus on promoting mental health wellness for future generations.

According to Husted, the lawsuit was filed by NetChoice on behalf of Meta and other social media corporations. The legal action argues that the new law is unconstitutional. Developed over several months, the law intends to safeguard children from online dangers.

The Social Media Parental Notification Act specifically targets children under the age of 16. It requires social media companies, including Meta (Facebook and Instagram’s parent company), TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube, to devise mechanisms to determine whether a user is below the age of 16. Furthermore, these platforms must obtain parental or legal guardian consent for users aged 15 or younger and send a written confirmation of consent to the responsible adult.

Last year, Lt. Gov. Husted advocated for this legislation and spoke with WLWT about its significance. He emphasized the importance of protecting children from potential harm by comparing it to not allowing a stranger into a child’s room. Husted believes that without proper filters, a child with an internet-enabled device is vulnerable to similar risks.

Responding to the lawsuit filed by NetChoice, Husted released a statement characterizing it as “cowardly but not unexpected.” He defended the law, explaining that its purpose is to simply require parental consent before children under the age of 16 can sign up on social media platforms or other online services. Husted accuses the companies behind the lawsuit of attempting to bypass parental oversight and subject children to harmful content, potentially leading to addiction on their platforms.

The Associated Press reports that NetChoice has been successful in legal battles against comparable restrictions in California and Arkansas. In Ohio, if a parent fails or refuses to accept the terms of service, social media companies are obligated to deny access to the child.

In summary, a lawsuit has been initiated against Ohio’s Social Media Parental Notification Act, which seeks to limit access to social media for young people to prioritize mental health. Filed by NetChoice on behalf of Meta and other social media corporations, the lawsuit argues that the law is unconstitutional. Lt. Gov. Husted responded by emphasizing the aim of protecting children from online risks and criticized the lawsuit as an attempt to undermine parental consent. Nevertheless, similar restrictions have been successfully challenged in California and Arkansas.