Chicago — A federal judge halted enforcement of a pending law in Ohio that would require children to get parental consent to use social media apps.
In a lawsuit brought by a trade group representing major tech companies like TikTok, Snapchat and Meta, the companies argue against the Social Media Parental Notification Act, which was part of an effort to protect children’s mental health and was set to take effect Jan. 15. The litigation argues the law unconstitutionally impedes free speech, is overbroad and vague, according to ABC News.
U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbely called the law’s intent to protect children “a laudable aim” but said it's unlikely that Ohio will be able to show that it’s “narrowly tailored to any ends that it identifies.”
“Foreclosing minors under sixteen from accessing all content on websites that the Act purports to cover, absent affirmative parental consent, is a breathtakingly blunt instrument for reducing social media’s harm to children,” he is quoted as saying by ABC.
Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted expressed disappointment in the judge’s action.
“The big-tech companies behind this lawsuit were included in the legislative process to make sure the law was clear and easy to implement, but now they claim the law is unclear," he said in a statement. "They were disingenuous participants in the process and have no interest in protecting children.”
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who signed the act into law in July, also expressed his disapproval.
“The negative effects that social media sites and apps have on our children’s mental health have been well documented, and this law was one way to empower parents to have a role in their kids’ digital lives," he said in a statement to the news outlet.
NetChoice has won lawsuits against similar restrictions in California and Arkansas.
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on X: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett