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Ohio’s new social media parental consent law blocked by federal judge

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal judge on Monday ruled that the state can’t enforce a new social media parental consent law for teenagers until larger constitutional issues are decided in his court.

The preliminary injunction by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio could last a year or more, depending on how fast the case gets to trial. The law is being challenged by NetChoice – a trade association representing Meta, X, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok and other social media platforms.

Ohio’s new social media law was supposed to go into effect Jan. 15, but Marbley temporarily put the breaks on it in Jan. 9, prior to Monday’s semipermanent hold.

READ MORE: Judge puts temporary brakes on Ohio’s social media parental consent law – cleveland.com

The law requires youth under age 16, when opening a social media account, to require parents or guardians to sign a form consenting to the child’s use and send it by email, mail or fax. Companies must also provide a toll-free telephone number or video teleconference line for adults to give permission.

READ MORE: Social media platforms must clear Ohio kids’ accounts with parents starting Jan. 15 – cleveland.com

NetChoice has racked up a number of wins in other states, when challenging their social media laws, which it argues are illegal restrictions on First Amendment rights. NetChoice said in a Monday statement that Ohio teens will find a way around the law.

“We look forward to seeing these laws permanently struck down and online speech and privacy fully protected across America,” said Chris Marchese, director of the NetChoice Litigation Center.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who championed the law after meeting with families who lost children to suicide as a result of fears over online exploitation, called the decision disappointing.

“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. “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.”

This story will be updated.

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Laura Hancock covers state government and politics for The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com.



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