Lawsuit filed over Ohio social media parental permission law
This story was last updated on January 9, 2023 at 4:00 p.m.
An internet trade association filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio on Friday, looking to block social media regulations from becoming law.
NetChoice is seeking an injunction against Ohio's Social Media Parental Notification Act, arguing in a federal court filing that it is too broad and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. NetChoice members include Facebook and Instagram parent Meta Platforms, Snapchat parent Snap Inc., and TikTok, among other big names in technology.
Passed as part of the state budget in the summer, it requires social media and gaming sites to get parental permission before letting any Ohioan younger than 16 onto their platforms.
It was set to take effect Monday, Jan. 15, but that’s now on hold because of the lawsuit. U.S. Southern District of Ohio Judge Algenon Marbley issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday preventing the law from taking effect as the case proceeds.
In a media release Friday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted called the move by NetChoice “cowardly.”
“In filing this lawsuit, these companies are determined to go around parents to expose children to harmful content and addict them to their platforms. These companies know that they are harming our children with addictive algorithms with catastrophic health and mental health outcomes,” Husted said.
Gov. Mike DeWine, Husted, and other Ohio legislative leaders advocated for the law to protect children’s mental health.
NetChoice, however, has said its members already have protections in place—and that parents should be the ones deciding for their kids about whether a platform is okay.
“Ohio lawmakers had good intentions, being concerned about the mental health and well-being of young people,” NetChoice spokesperson Krista Chavez wrote in a media release. “But unfortunately, they chose a path that violates constitutional rights and rips away a parent’s authority to care for their child as they find appropriate.”
A spokesperson for Husted’s office said Monday that an initial hearing on the case had to be rescheduled, after the judge assigned to it had to recuse herself.
In Arkansas and California, preliminary injunctions have been granted to NetChoice over similar provisions. A preliminary injunction hearing in Ohio is scheduled for Feb. 7, according to court documents.