Social Media Trade Group Files Lawsuit Against Ohio Over Controversial New Law

Columbus, Ohio – A trade group representing multiple social media sites has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Ohio over a new law that requires companies to obtain verifiable parental consent for children under the age of 16. NetChoice, the trade group behind the lawsuit, argues that the law is unconstitutional. They have previously taken legal action against other states that have passed laws regulating social media use and internet privacy.

The Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act, set to go into effect on January 15, has faced significant opposition. NetChoice, which includes clients such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and X, claims that the law violates minors’ free speech rights and is unconstitutionally vague.

In response to the lawsuit, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, a champion of the law, called the legal action “cowardly.” Husted believes that social media companies are harming children with addictive algorithms that have negative health and mental health outcomes.

Under the new law, certain online companies like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok would be required to include parental consent as part of their terms of service before allowing teenagers and children to use their platforms. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office stated that the law may also cover gaming platforms and shared message boards that target or are anticipated to be accessed by children.

To verify parental consent, the law provides several methods, including signing a digital form, using a credit or debit card, calling a toll-free number, connecting via video conference with trained personnel, or checking a government-issued identification.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office emphasized that if operators fail to provide notification or terminate a child’s access, parents can contact the website operator, who then has 30 days to end the child’s access. If the operator fails to comply, parents can file a complaint.

Despite the legal challenges, Lieutenant Governor Husted urged NetChoice to drop the lawsuit and move forward with the Social Media Parental Notification Act, which he believes makes parents an integral part of the equation.

In summary, Ohio is facing a lawsuit from the trade group NetChoice over a new social media law that requires parental consent for children under 16. The group argues that the law is unconstitutional, while those in favor of the law believe it is necessary to protect children from the potential negative effects of social media. The outcome of the lawsuit will have significant implications for how social media is regulated in Ohio and potentially in other states as well.