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California Approves Online Digital ID Rules for Social Media Use

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The California Senate has approved SB 976, a bill mandating age verification for social media use, sparking concerns over online anonymity and free speech. Critics argue that this legislation could pose significant threats to privacy, affecting not just Californians but potentially all Americans.

We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.

SB 976 imposes strict regulations on social media interactions for minors. It prohibits notifications during school hours and late at night without parental consent and mandates that social media feeds for minors be presented chronologically rather than algorithmically, again without parental approval. Social media companies can implement these measures only if they have “reasonably determined” the user is not a minor, a definition set to be clarified by the California Attorney General by 2027. Critics fear this could lead to the requirement of sensitive personal information, such as government IDs, for verification.

Related: The 2024 Digital ID and Online Age Verification Agenda

Though SB 976 stops short of mandating ID-based verification, similar laws have already taken root in states like Arkansas, Ohio, and Utah, with Florida considering similar measures. Given California’s market size, experts warn that companies might adopt age verification nationwide to simplify compliance.

The bill narrowly passed the Senate, with only two Republicans, Brian Jones and Kelly Seyarto, voting against it. Notably, the bill’s lone Republican co-author, Scott Wilk, abstained from voting.

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