POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

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

the state capitol is pictured, the utah supreme court is seeking more information about a redistric...

Adam Small

Utah lawmakers pass two school security bills

The Utah Legislature passed two school security bills. One of them deals with concealed carry incentives for teachers.

5 hours ago

A State of Utah emblem is displayed in the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024....

Adam Small

Lawmakers pass two bills that could give people big tax breaks

Tax cuts could be on the way for Utahns. Lawmakers passed two bills this week that are now on their way to the governor's desk.

7 hours ago

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) heads to the floor of the Senate for a vote on Capito...

Clare Foran, Morgan Rimmer and Ted Barrett, CNN

Mitch McConnell to step down from GOP leadership position in the Senate

Mitch McConnell will step down as GOP leader in November, the Kentucky Republican announced on the Senate floor Wednesday.

9 hours ago

A photo taken on the Saratoga Springs shore of Utah Lake on August 21, 2021. State lawmakers are co...

Tammy Kikuchi

A bill could improve Utah Lake and get more water into Great Salt Lake

State lawmakers say the goal of SB270 is to improve Utah Lake and direct more water into Great Salt Lake.

17 hours ago

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 27: A sign for Republican presidential candidate former President Don...

Marshall Cohen, CNN

Illinois judge removes Trump from ballot, cites ‘insurrectionist ban’

Wednesday’s unexpected decision comes as a similar challenge from Colorado is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

21 hours ago

FILE: Citizens crowd in classrooms at Mt. Logan Middle School in Logan, Utah a Republican caucus me...

Peter Johnston

Utah Republican and Democratic caucuses are coming up. Here’s how they work

One Utah party will hold a caucus next week to determine a presidential preference, another will meet, but ultimately decide by mail.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

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