Kemp signs bill requiring kids to have parental permission to join social media

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a flurry of bills into law aimed at how the state's children use social media and the internet.

On Tuesday, Kemp signed Senate Bill 351 which requires children younger than 16 to have their parents’ explicit permission to create social media accounts. Companies would be required to verify users' ages by July 1, 2025. 

Officials say the law's primary aim is to combat cyberbullying and address concerns surrounding youth mental health in relation to social media use.

"We cannot continue to sit by and do nothing as young Georgians develop addictions and disorder and suffer at the hands of online antagonists," Kemp said.

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Several other states, including Louisiana, Arkansas, Ohio and Utah passed laws last year requiring parental consent for children to use social media. Laws have currently been blocked by courts in Arkansas, California and Ohio. NetChoice, a trade group of online businesses, noted that the law's "defects would immediately invite legal challenges."

A 12-year-old boy looks at an iPhone screen showing various social media apps including TikTok, Facebook and X on February 25, 2024 in Bath, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

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"There are better ways to protect Georgians, their families and their data online without infringing on their freedoms or jeopardizing their safety and security," Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Kemp said he wasn’t worried about legal threats. "If we were concerned about all the legal challenges that we may get this session, we probably wouldn’t have passed anything," he told reporters.

Georgia to require age verification on adult websites

The bill, which was introduced by Republican state Sen. Jason Anavitarte also requires pornographic sites to verify that users are 18 or over by requiring users to upload a government-issued photo ID.

Companies could be held liable if minors were found to access the sites, and could face fines of up to $10,000 for each child.

A handful of other states, including Texas, have enacted age-verification laws in the last few years. In March, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Texas law, leading Pornhub to cut off access to Texans.

The Free Speech Coalition, which represents adult filmmakers and challenged the Texas law, argued Georgia's law would be ineffective because users could mask their location and because people would be forced to transmit sensitive information. They also argue it’s unconstitutional because there are less restrictive ways to keep children out and discriminate against certain types of speech. The coalition has sued multiple states over the laws.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.