Utah’s social media law raising questions about parent, teen rights

Sep 12, 2023, 12:41 PM

Gov. Spencer Cox shakes hands with Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper....

Gov. Spencer Cox shakes hands with Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper, after signing HB311, Social Media Usage Amendments, which Cullimore sponsored, at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 23, 2023. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s social media law is the first of its kind, requiring age verification and restricting access to social media for minors during certain hours. Ahead of it taking effect, some are concerned that the law is overstepping parent and teen rights. 

The new law goes into effect on March 1, 2024, according to the State of Utah’s website

Stephen Balkam is the founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. Balkam said age verification is an important part of the law. In an opinion piece for Deseret News, Balkam wrote that the age verification process has been underexplained by state lawmakers. 

Utah’s social media law does not explicitly state how platforms are expected to verify age.

“You have a balance between effectiveness on the one hand and invasiveness on the other,” said Balkam. The more effective age assurance technology is, the more invasive to a person’s privacy it typically is. 

Age verification would require the collection of sensitive information, according to Balkam. 

Age verification could be difficult with children under the age of 16, who do not usually possess a driver’s license. In those cases, platforms would need to get the information from parents, or sometimes schools. 

“It’s not that we’re against the notion of age verification, age assurance. It’s just that some of the methods that have been used so far then cause different unintended consequences,” Balkam said. 

Parent or government responsibility? 

Philosophically, Balkam said his organization believes that as children reach the ages of 15, 16, and 17, they have some rights to information and to freely express themselves online. 

Balkam said that it is a parent’s right and responsibility to protect their children, but teens, specifically older ones, have a right to access information and socialize on the internet. 

“Parents still have a responsibility to talk with their child, to set ground rules… but we don’t think that there should be a blanket ban on anyone under the age of 18,” Balkam said. 

Related reading: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

Audience members duck in the crowd during a shooting attempt at a campaign rally for Republican pre...

Kennedy Camarena

Name of man killed in Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally released

The Pennsylvania governor has released the name of the man who was killed in the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally on Saturday.

6 hours ago

The FBI has identified a suspect in the shooting that occurred at a campaign rally. Republican pres...

Kennedy Camarena

FBI identifies gunman involved in apparent assassination attempt of former President Trump

The FBI has identified the gunman who was involved with the apparent assassination attempt of former President Donald Trump.

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump is whisked away by Secret Ser...

Simone Seikaly

PHOTOS: Shots fired at Trump rally, former president injured, spectator killed

Former President Donald Trump was injured by shots that were fired toward a campaign rally stage in Butler, Pa, on Saturday.

10 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surround by U.S. Secret Service ...

Kyle Remund

Former President Trump issues statement after assassination attempt.

After surviving an assassination attempt, Former President Donald Trump has now issued a statement about the attack.

22 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campai...

Kyle Remund

Utah leaders respond to shooting at Trump rally

After multiple gunshots were repoertedly fired at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania, Utah and national leaders spoke up about the attack.

23 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...


Shooting at Trump rally is being investigated as assassination attempt, AP sources say

A rally held by Former President Donald Trump was interrupted by gunshots fired in an assassination attempt on Saturday.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Utah’s social media law raising questions about parent, teen rights