Push for Online Protections for Minors by Florida Conservatives

Push for Online Protections for Minors by Florida Conservatives

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
|
January 8, 2024

A bevy of bills have been floored by Florida Republican legislators to protect minors on the internet and social media

Senator Erin Grall (R-29) filed the latest proposals: two bills requiring age verification on social media platforms and creating regulations to shield minors from inappropriate online content. 

Senator Grall’s social media proposal would prohibit individuals under 16 from using social media and compel social media companies to verify users’ ages. Age verification would have to be outsourced to unaffiliated third parties.  

Existing accounts with unverified ages would be erased and parents of children under 16 with existing accounts would also be able to request termination of their children’s account.

Additionally, a disclaimer on the mental health consequences and addictive qualities of social media would be read and accepted by individuals between 16 and 18 upon entering the site. 

Social media companies in violation of Grall’s law could be fined up to $50,000 and liable to pay for civil damages to minor users or their families up to $10,000. 

Meanwhile, Grall’s bill to protect minors from inappropriate online content requires companies publishing such content verify their clients are 18 or older. 

According to the proposal, inappropriate content entails pornographic material or content lacking “literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

The fines, penalties, and potential civil damages companies violating the law could face are equal to those of the social media bill. 

Entities providing internet access to companies in violation of the bill would not be liable under the bill. 

If passed, both bills would become law on July 1st, 2024. 

Age verification and reports of questionable online behavior by minors have been increasingly proposed as solutions to the dangers of social media. 

Last December, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) filed a similar national bill to the state law proposed by Grall.

Termed “Sammy’s Law”, the bill would mandate social media companies provide data indicating dangerous content on a minor's social media through third-party safety apps to parents. 

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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