Utah’s Republican Governor Spencer Cox is set to sign a controversial bill restricting minors’ access to social media without parental consent.
Despite some First Amendment concerns, Cox said he would “absolutely” sign multiple social media bills that have made it to his desk, according to PBS Utah.
The governor also said he is willing to deal with any legal challenges to the legislation.
“I’m not gonna back down from a potential legal challenge when these companies are killing our kids,” Cox said.
Under Utah Senate Bill 152, residents under the age of 18 would only be allowed to open accounts on social media platforms with a parent or guardian’s permission. The restrictions would take place March 1st, 2024.
Cox pledged to work with social media companies and third-party verification vendors in the meantime to nail down the details of how those restrictions would be implemented.
Cox will also sign Utah House Bill 311, which would primarily stop “a social media company from using a design or feature that causes a minor to have an addiction to the company’s social media platform.”
He welcomes the inevitable legal challenges to the bills, saying existing case law was “wrongly decided, especially in light of the fact that we have new facts about the internet and about these social media platforms that were not available when those cases were decided.”
The governor also expressed his desire for Congress to enact similar regulations so states “didn’t have to do this”, but he has hopes other states and the federal government will follow Utah’s lead.
Cox said social media presents a “clear health and safety threat” to minors.
A notice from the University of Utah on social media’s impact on teens’ mental health states research shows young adults who use the platforms are three times as likely to suffer from depression.