NATIONAL NEWS

A judge has blocked enforcement of an Ohio law limiting kids’ use of social media amid litigation

Feb 12, 2024, 1:01 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge extended a block on enforcement Monday of an Ohio law that would require children under 16 to get parental consent to use social media apps as a legal challenge proceeds.

U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction prevents the law from taking effect while a lawsuit filed earlier this month by NetChoice winds its way through court. NetChoice is a trade group representing TikTok, Snapchat, Meta and other major tech companies. The group is fighting the law as overly broad, vague and an unconstitutional impediment to free speech.

The law, originally was set to take effect Jan. 15 and is similar to ones enacted in other states — including in California and Arkansas, where NetChoice has won lawsuits.

In his decision, Marbley said NetChoice is likely to prevail on its First Amendment speech freedom arguments.

“There is no indication that the State disfavors the sort of content designed to appeal to children — cartoons and the like,” he wrote. “‘Websites that children might access’ is not a topic or subject matter. Indeed, even though covered platforms contain some subject matter likely to appeal to children, most also contain subject matter ‘as diverse as human thought.’”

The law would require companies to get parental permission for social media and gaming apps and to provide their privacy guidelines so families know what content would be censored or moderated on their child’s profile.

The Social Media Parental Notification Act was part of an $86.1 billion state budget bill that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law in July. 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.

Following Monday’s decision, Husted said the state was evaluating its next steps.

“It’s disappointing, but it will not deter us from our responsibility to protect children from exploitative social media algorithms that are causing a crisis of depression, suicide, bullying, and sexual exploitation among our children,” he said in a statement. “These companies could solve this problem without passing new laws, but they refuse to do so. Because social media companies will not be responsible, we must hold them accountable.”

But Marbley pointed out that the Ohio law is not structured to prevent children from exploring the internet once they’ve received parental permission, and it does not seem to attempt to limit individual social media features — such as “infinite scrolling” — that have been cited as the most detrimental.

“The approach is an untargeted one, as parents must only give one-time approval for the creation of an account, and parents and platforms are otherwise not required to protect against any of the specific dangers that social media might pose,” he said.

The judge also called it “eyebrow-raising” that the act makes an exception for children to access “established” and “widely recognized” news media outlets without defining what that means, and prohibits kids from accessing product reviews but not reviews for services or art.

NetChoice filed suit in January against state Attorney General Dave Yost in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Marbley issued a temporary injunction shortly after.

National News

FILE - Deborah Moody, an administrative clerk at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchora...

Associated Press

Alaska election officials to recalculate signatures for ranked vote repeal measure after court order

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge on Friday disqualified numerous booklets used to gather signatures for an initiative that aims to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting system and gave elections officials a deadline to determine if the measure still had sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The decision by Superior Court […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

UN approves more transparent procedures for people and entities to get off its sanctions lists

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved more transparent procedures Friday for the hundreds of individuals, companies and other entities who are subject to U.N. sanctions and want to get off the blacklists. The resolution, co-sponsored by Malta and the United States, also authorizes the establishment of a new informal working […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee meeting, Dec. 13...

Associated Press

Longtime US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who had pancreatic cancer, has died

Longtime U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who helped lead federal efforts to protect women from domestic violence and recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, has died. She was 74. Lillie Conley, her chief of staff, confirmed Friday night that Jackson Lee, who had pancreatic cancer, had died. The Democrat had represented her Houston-based […]

5 hours ago

Stools line the bar at Elwood's Liquor and Tap on Thursday, July 18, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wis. This w...

Associated Press

Outside the RNC, small Milwaukee businesses and their regulars tried to salvage a sluggish week

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jay Nelson was standing outside the convenience store he manages in downtown Milwaukee when one of his regular customers walked by on her daily stroll around the neighborhood. “I’ve been telling people to come and buy even just a bottle of wine,” she said, stretching out her arms. “I hope it helps.” […]

5 hours ago

Descendants of Nelson Bell, brothers Milford Fonza, front left, and Elmer Fonza, front right, surro...

Associated Press

In a California gold rush town, some Black families are fighting for land taken from their ancestors

COLOMA, Calif. (AP) — In a tiny town where the California gold rush began, Black families are seeking restitution for land that was taken from their ancestors to make way for a state park now frequented by fourth graders learning about the state’s history. Their efforts in Coloma, a town of around 300 people that’s […]

5 hours ago

An image of President Joe Biden is projected on a screen during the final night of the 2024 Republi...

Associated Press

Biden’s ability to win back skeptical Democrats tested at a perilous moment for his campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite a week of campaign stops, interviews and a determined insistence he is the best candidate to confront Republican Donald Trump, President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive his reelection bid and win over skeptical Democrats have done little to soften the push for him to exit the 2024 race. Biden has weighty […]

5 hours ago

A judge has blocked enforcement of an Ohio law limiting kids’ use of social media amid litigation