Tech

NetChoices: TikTok, Meta, X and others sue Utah over app limits for minors

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An industry group representing TikTok, Meta, and X has issued a lawsuit against the US state of Utah over strict new limits to access social media.

As reported by the Associated Press, Utah instigated a first-in-the-nation law aimed at protecting children from compulsive behaviors and other harms linked to social media use. As part of the proposals, age verification would be required to maintain a social media account in the state and minors would require parental authority to access the apps between 10.30 PM and 06.30 AM.

Following the two laws signed in March by Republican Governor Spencer Cox, it is no surprise to see the social heavyweights returning the serve with legal action of their own and in doing so, they have claimed the regulations are unconstitutional although well-intended.

NetChoice, the trade body representing platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and X, (and their parent companies), is arguing the new laws will restrict access to public content, compromise data security and undermine parental rights.

Chris Marchese, Director of the NetChoice Litigation Center stated, “We are fighting to ensure that all Utahns can embrace digital tools without the forceful clutch of government control,” in a move anticipated by Cox.

“I’m not going to back down from a potential legal challenge when these companies are killing our kids,” he intimated.

Burden of proof to be shouldered by social media giants

Under the new laws due to take effect from 1 March 2024, parents will be able to access children’s accounts with an accessible path to take legal action against social media companies if they believe their kids have been harmed.

In effect, the regulations will shift the burden of proof from the families onto the social media giants, requiring them to show their products were not harmful and any platform with a minimum of five million users will be subject to the new legislation.

This news comes after more than 40 US states sued Meta in October, whilst New Mexico filed a lawsuit against the company alleging it failed to protect children from sexual abuse and online solicitation.

Featured Image: Pexels/Stephen Leonardi


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