POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Are Utah’s social media laws the best course of action?

Mar 30, 2023, 4:00 PM

social media icons pictured, a new social media law coming to utah...

FILE - This Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo shows application icons from left, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Messenger Kids on an iPhone in New York, (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Lately, Utah has been making national waves due to new social media laws pertaining to children. However, not everyone is sold on the new law. 

Moving forward, SB.152 and HB.311 aim to require age verification from social media platforms of the Utah resident who would like to make an account. For those under the age of 18, parental consent will be required. 

The laws also create room for curfews on accounts and can block underage accounts from certain search results. And according to Gov. Spencer Cox, this can all be done while limiting data collection. 

There is no doubt social media can have negative effects on children. But how will social media platforms create stipulations that only apply to Utahns?

Founder of Family Tech Zone, Sarah Kimmel, told Dave and Dujanovic her biggest concern is privacy.

Although Cox has assured no data collection will come from these laws, come March 2024, every Utahn will have to confirm their age. 

The bills don’t specify how a third party will require age verification, but a government-issued ID will possibly be involved. If this were to be the case, as pointed out by Kimmel, somewhere there will have to be a database of everyone’s licenses.

“I think that’s a really dangerous database to have out there,” said Kimmel. “The greatest security in the world might not stop a lot of hackers.”

Other courses of action?

As Cox said, “It’s going to be tough and we don’t expect that we are going to be able to prevent every young person from getting around this, kids are really smart.”

Kimmel agreed that something must be done to better protect children against the harms of social media. However, she said a better approach the government could take would be along the lines of banning phones in classrooms. 

“That’s well within the government jurisdiction. I think that will do so much more to kind of curtail this problem than trying to parent everyones’ kids at home.” 

However, this approach was already taken by lawmaker, Rep. Trevor Lee (R-Layton) and didn’t see much attention this legislative session. 

Will Utah’s new laws force the federal government to find a consistent set of rules? 

Listen to Dave and Dujanovic discuss new social media laws with Sarah Kimmel. 

 

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Are Utah’s social media laws the best course of action?