Brooks also said the law would impede access to speech for minors and adults. Requiring adult users to comply with age verification requirements by providing platforms with state-approved materials imposes “significant burdens on their ability to view constitutionally protected speech.” While the state’s goal of keeping kids safe on the internet is “admirable,” Brooks said that doesn’t justify removing speech directed at adults. He also said the law was not narrowly tailored to address state claims about alleged online harm to children.
A judgment in favor of the technology: The decision is a crucial victory for NetChoice given that the judge ruled that it likely violated the public’s First Amendment rights. “We are pleased that the court sided with the First Amendment and stopped Arkansas’ unconstitutional law from censoring free speech online and infringing on the privacy of Arkansasians, their families and businesses as our case progresses,” NetChoice’s Chris Marchese, group general counsel. center, said in a statement. “We hope to see the law repealed permanently. »
Trend of state laws: Arkansas is one of many states to pass laws aimed at restricting social media access for children and teens. NetChoice’s success in Arkansas could spell trouble for Utah and Louisiana, which have passed similar laws. A bipartisan federal bill was also introduced to ban children under 13 from using social media, but it failed to pass in committee or garner widespread support.
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the bill in April, this would have required social media platforms to use third-party companies to verify the age of users on their platforms. But after covert lobbying campaigns, some big tech companies, including YouTube, LinkedIn and cloud service providers like Google and Amazon, were exempted. This also does not apply to social media platforms with an annual turnover of less than $100 million.
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said in a statement that he was disappointed with the decision. “I will continue to vigorously defend the law and protect our children, an important interest recognized in the federal judge’s order today,” he said. Griffin can appeal the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, but his office declined to share his next steps.
NetChoice had requested an expedited decision to suspend the law’s entry into force, given the short implementation time to comply. The group claimed the law threatens the safety and privacy of Arkansans by requiring social media companies like Meta and TikTok to work with outside groups to collect users’ ages to verify their ages.
Additionally, civil liberties groups ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief supporting NetChoice’s injunction request, saying the law allegedly violated free speech protections afforded to children. and adults on social networks.