Louisiana lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill that, if signed into law, would prevent people under the age of 18 from creating profiles with online services without the consent of a parent or guardian. The bill, HB61, now goes to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards for final approval. If he signs the bill, it will come into force on August 1, 2024.
The bill states that no “interactive computer service” can enter into an agreement with a minor without the consent of a guardian. However, interactive computing service is a broad term that could include any online service that requires a person to log into an account, such as an online video game profile or an email account.
The bill would also allow parents to retroactively cancel any terms of service agreement a minor has previously signed with online services. But that only reinforces Louisiana’s civil code, which already allows a guardian to terminate a contract entered into by a minor.
However, some critics say the bill is too broad and could have unintended consequences. Servando Esparza, executive director of technology industry group TechNet, posted on Twitter that HB61 could compromise people’s privacy.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.
The passage of this bill comes weeks after the US Surgeon General issued an advisory on the effects of youth mental health social media.
“Children are exposed to harmful content on social media, ranging from violent and sexual content to bullying and harassment,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in a press release. “We are in the midst of a national youth mental health crisis, and I fear that social media is a significant driver of this crisis – a crisis that we must urgently address.”
If HB61 becomes law, Louisiana would join states like Arkansas and Utah, which have passed similar bills requiring minors to obtain consent from a guardian before creating social media accounts.