Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted released the following statements after Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley, the United States District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, granted tech lobbying group NetChoice’s request for a preliminary injunction that stops the Social Media Parental Notification Act from being enforced. NetChoice represents Meta and other social media companies.
“There is overwhelming evidence that social media has a negative effect on the mental health of minors, including increases in depression and suicide-related behavior,” said Governor DeWine. “The Social Media Parental Notification Act remains a reasonable, clear, narrowly tailored, and, I believe, lawful approach to provide safeguards and parental guidance. I am disappointed in today’s ruling by the district court and respectfully disagree with it. Since the federal courts are interpreting federal constitutional law as preventing the State of Ohio from protecting Ohio’s children, then Congress needs to act to protect our country’s children.”
Lt. Governor Husted provided the following statement:
“It’s disappointing, but it will not deter us from our responsibility to protect children from exploitative social media algorithms that are causing a crisis of depression, suicide, bullying, and sexual exploitation among our children. These companies could solve this problem without passing new laws, but they refuse to do so. Because social media companies will not be responsible, we must hold them accountable.
“Now, more than ever, we have a responsibility to continue our fight to protect children so they will not be exploited and monetized at the hands of big tech.
“After we have time to review the decision, we will determine our next steps but we are resolved to escalate our efforts to protect kids from further exploitation.”
The Social Media Parental Notification Act would have required certain online companies to obtain verifiable parental consent to contractual terms of service before permitting kids under the age of 16 to use their platforms. This proposal was championed by Lt. Governor Husted, passed by the General Assembly, and signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine as part of the 2023-24 executive budget and was to take effect on January 15, 2024.
The law also included a requirement for companies to provide parents with their privacy guidelines to show them what will be censored or moderated content on their child’s profile.