The judge has prolonged the suspension of Ohio’s enforcement of the law requiring parental consent for social media use.

Title: Federal Judge Blocks Ohio Law Requiring Parental Consent for Social Media Use by Minors

On February 13, 2024, a federal judge in Columbus, Ohio extended a block on the enforcement of a state law that would require children under 16 to obtain parental consent before using social media apps. The decision was made in response to a lawsuit filed by NetChoice, a trade group representing major tech companies such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Meta.

The law, which was set to take effect on January 15, is similar to ones enacted in other states, including California and Arkansas. However, NetChoice argues that the law is overly broad, vague, and unconstitutional, and impedes on free speech. In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley stated that NetChoice is likely to prevail on its First Amendment arguments.

The law, known as the Social Media Parental Notification Act, was part of a state budget bill signed by Republican Governor Mike DeWine in July. The administration claimed that the law was necessary to protect children’s mental health, with Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted stating that social media is “intentionally addictive” and harmful to kids.

In response to the decision, Husted expressed disappointment but stated that it will not deter the state from its responsibility to protect children from the negative effects of social media. He also criticized social media companies for not taking responsibility and stated that the state will hold them accountable.

However, Judge Marbley pointed out that the law does not prevent children from accessing the internet once they have obtained parental consent, and it does not target specific features that have been cited as the most detrimental. He also noted that the law only requires one-time parental approval for account creation and does not address other potential issues.

In conclusion, the federal judge’s decision to block the enforcement of the Ohio law highlights the ongoing debate surrounding the regulation of social media and its impact on children. While the state may have good intentions, it is important to consider the potential limitations and unintended consequences of such laws.  

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