Group Representing Big Tech Tells Kemp to Veto Social Media Age Verification Bill

A trade association of internet companies is asking Gov. Brian Kemp to veto legislation requiring social media platforms to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to verify the age of users.

Senate Bill 351, which the Georgia House and Senate passed last week on the final day of this year’s legislative session, is aimed at protecting young people from cyberbullying and other negative effects of social media.

The “Protecting Georgia’s Children on Social Media Act” was a top priority of Lt. Gov. Burt Jones. It was sponsored by Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus.

“Social media can be a very useful tool, however there are instances in which we must rein in Big Tech in order to protect the health and safety of our children,” Jones said after the Senate passed the original version of the bill in February. “This legislation is a tremendous step forward in our effort to combat cyberbullying and protect Georgia’s children.”

But Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, argued such a mandated verification requirement for social media access is unconstitutional.

“While there are many good ideas in this legislation, if implemented, it will create serious vulnerabilities for Georgians and their families while violating the U.S. Constitution,” Szabo wrote Monday in a letter to Kemp. “Ultimately, Georgia would be better served by abandoning age-verification efforts for social media and instead pursuing legislative efforts to improve online literacy for minors and their parents.”

The bill’s supporters cited numerous studies that have found overuse of social media to pose a significant danger to young people, particularly girls, increasing their risk of suicide.

Senate Bill 351 would apply the age-verification requirement to minors, meaning Georgians under the age of 16.

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