Minnesota legislators are considering abandoning parental control over social media content their children view and handing that responsibility over to the State of Minnesota and the state’s attorney general, Keith Ellison.
Tossing aside First Amendment concerns, HF 3724 will enact a mandate that pretends to be protecting children from harmful Internet content.
Instead, its clumsy approach will disallow certain content for users under age 18 “even if the algorithm is being employed to protect the user from harmful content.” It is also unclear how it would apply to students doing legitimate research.
For example: “If a Minnesota teenager is on a class field trip to Washington, DC.,. does the law still apply?” “What about an Arizona teenager visiting their grandparents in Minnesota?” What about a 17-year-old college student from another state studying at a Minnesota university or a Minnesota student using PSEO?
Everyone – consumers and technology companies agree: we must do everything possible to make sure that children, when online, are safe. But legislation like this is counterproductive to those goals: it will invite a multitude of lawsuits by enacting impractical, state-specific regulations that will likely undermine efforts currently underway to keep minors away from harmful digital content.