Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Children Under 14 From Social Media

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Children Under 14 From Social Media

Governor Ron DeSantis has signed into law House Bill 3, which aims to restrict minors’ access to social media platforms. The bill, passed with overwhelming support in the House and Senate, prohibits children under the age of 16 from opening social media accounts without parental consent. The governor signed the bill in Jacksonville on Monday, emphasizing its role in safeguarding minors from online predators.

The legislation, supported by a vote of 109 to 4 in the House, is designed to strike a balance between restricting children’s access to social media while allowing parental discretion for older teens. Speaking on the importance of the new law, Governor DeSantis highlighted the potential dangers posed by online predators and the need for proactive measures to protect children.

Initially, Governor DeSantis vetoed an earlier version of the bill, citing concerns over its strict age restrictions and limited parental freedoms. The revised bill now allows parents to grant consent for 14- and 15-year-olds to have social media accounts, while prohibiting children under 14 from opening accounts altogether.

Under the new law, social media companies are required to utilize third-party age verification systems to confirm the age of users creating new accounts. Additionally, accounts reasonably believed to belong to individuals under 16 must be terminated by these platforms.

Despite its passage, Democratic Orlando State Representative Anna Eskamani has expressed skepticism regarding the effectiveness and constitutionality of the law. Eskamani believes that similar laws in other states have faced legal challenges and suggests that Florida may incur significant expenses defending the legislation in court. She argues that the bill’s enforcement may not effectively prevent minors from accessing social media platforms, potentially leading to continued risks.

Critics like Eskamani question whether the bill’s aggressive approach adequately addresses the complexities of regulating minors’ online activities while respecting their First Amendment rights. Despite these concerns, the law is set to take effect in January, barring any successful legal challenges.

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