Tech Group Sues Mississippi as the Latest Law Regarding Website Age Verification

Tech Group Sues Mississippi as the Latest Law Regarding Website Age Verification
Tech Group Sues Mississippi as the Latest Law Regarding Website Age Verification

According to a tech industry group, a new Mississippi law that requires users of websites and other digital services to authenticate their age will unconstitutionally restrict adults’ and children’s access to online communication.

A tech industry group claims in a lawsuit filed on Friday that a new Mississippi law requiring users of websites and other digital services to verify their age will unconstitutionally limit access to online expression for both adults and minors. The new law, according to legislators, is intended to shield kids from sexually graphic content. The bill was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate and House without any opposition from political parties. It was signed on April 30 by Republican Governor Tate Reeves, and it will go into effect on July 1.

NetChoice, whose members include Google, the owner of YouTube; Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat; and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, filed the complaint contesting the new Mississippi law in federal court in Jackson.

Judges have been swayed by NetChoice to strike down such legislation in Ohio, California, and Arkansas, among other states. The lawsuit claims that in order for people to access and participate in protected expression, the Mississippi statute “mandates that minors and adults alike verify their ages, which may include handing over personal information or identification that many are unwilling or unable to provide.” “Such restrictions violate the First Amendment because they abridge the freedom of speech.”

Additionally, according to the lawsuit, the Mississippi law would substitute state-mandated censorship for websites’ voluntary content-moderation efforts. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that everything from contemporary media like Taylor Swift’s pop songs to classic literature like Romeo and Juliet could fall under the wide, subjective, and nebulous categories of speech that the Act mandates websites to monitor and control.

The complaint names defendant Lynn Fitch, the attorney general of Mississippi. While the attorney general’s office does not comment on ongoing legal matters, communications director MaryAsa Lee stated that the agency “looks forward to defending the state’s law that gives parents the help they need to protect their children online.”

Utah is one of the states that NetChoice has sued due to regulations that place severe restrictions on children’s access to social media. Republican Governor Spencer Cox approved legislation changes to the Utah code in March.

According to the new regulations, social media platforms must confirm the age of their users and remove specific elements from accounts that belong to minors in Utah. Legislators in Utah also eliminated the need for parental approval before a kid could open an account, as many parents expressed worry that their child would have to provide personal information that would jeopardize their online safety.

Also readUnveiling the Ethical Imperatives: Navigating the Intersection of AI and Cybersecurity

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