Ohio’s Social Media Age Law Temporarily Blocked

Ohio's Social Media Age Law Temporarily Blocked by Federal Judge

In a surprising turn of events, an Ohio federal judge, Algenon L. Marbley, slammed the brakes on a groundbreaking social media age law set to go into effect on January 15. The law, known as the Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act, required platforms to obtain parental consent before allowing children under 16 to create accounts. However, the judge deemed it a “breathtakingly blunt instrument” that may inadvertently harm the very demographic it aims to protect.

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Halt Order Issued Amidst Legal Battle

NetChoice, a trade association including industry giants Meta Platforms and TikTok, successfully petitioned for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the law. The organization argued that the legislation was unconstitutional, imposing broad consent requirements that infringed on protected speech rights for minors.

Judge Marbley, after hearing oral arguments on Monday, decided to grant the TRO, temporarily blocking the law until a hearing scheduled for next month.

Ohio blocks social media age law: Vagueness and Constitutional Concerns

In his ruling, Judge Marbley expressed concern over the vagueness of certain aspects of the law, particularly its application to platforms “reasonably anticipated to be accessed by children.” He acknowledged the Ohio Attorney General’s characterization of the law as a matter of contract rights rather than free speech. However, he emphasized that the law’s language indicated a potential impact on content-based regulations, which could trigger strict scrutiny.