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A group representing TikTok, Meta and X sues Ohio over new law limiting kids’ use of social media

Jan 5, 2024, 3:14 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A trade group representing TikTok, Snapchat, Meta and other major tech companies sued Ohio on Friday over a pending law that requires children to get parental consent to use social media apps.

The law was part of an $86.1 billion state budget bill that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law in July. It’s set to take effect Jan. 15. The administration pushed the measure as a way to protect children’s mental health, with Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted saying at the time that social media was “intentionally addictive” and harmful to kids.

The NetChoice trade group filed its lawsuit against GOP Attorney General Dave Yost in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. It seeks to block the law from taking effect.

The litigation argues that Ohio’s law — which requires social media companies to obtain a parent’s permission for children under 16 to sign up for social media and gaming apps — unconstitutionally impedes free speech and is overbroad and vague.

The law also requires social media companies to provide parents with their privacy guidelines, so that families can know what content will be censored or moderated on their child’s profile.

“We at NetChoice believe families equipped with educational resources are capable of determining the best approach to online services and privacy protections for themselves,” Chris Marchese, director of the organization’s litigation center, said in a statement. “With NetChoice v. Yost, we will fight to ensure all Ohioans can embrace digital tools without their privacy, security and rights being thwarted.”

The group has won lawsuits against similar restrictions in California and Arkansas.

Husted, who leads Ohio’s technology initiatives and championed the law, called Friday’s lawsuit “cowardly but not unexpected.”

“In filing this lawsuit, these companies are determined to go around parents to expose children to harmful content and addict them to their platforms,” Husted said in a statement.

He alleged the companies know their algorithms are harming children “with catastrophic health and mental health outcomes.”

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A group representing TikTok, Meta and X sues Ohio over new law limiting kids’ use of social media