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AVPA gives evidence to Utah Senate Business and Labor Committee

February 15, 2024

On Wednesday 14th February, we were invited to addres the Utah Senate Business and Labor Committee which is considering a revision to the State’s existing laws designed to protect minors from the harms presented by the use of social media.  It was the longest hearing the chairman of the committee, Senator Curtis Bramble, had seen in 24 years’ experience.

SB194 Social Media Regulation Amendments remove the automatic curfew scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1 on Utah children’s social media accounts but instead require social media companies to enable the maximum default privacy settings by:

  • making the child’s profile only visible to connected accounts
  • limiting content-sharing and messaging to connected accounts
  • preventing the collection and sale of data beyond what is required for the core functions of the platform
  • disabling indexing of the account by search engines

Social media platforms must also implement reasonable security measures, including data encryption, to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of children’s personal information, and delete it or any public posts by the child at their request. The law also requires that autoplay, auto-loading through scrolling and most push messages are disabled.

Additionally, the bill gives the child the ability to nominate someone (presumably a parent or guardian in most cases) to;

  • use supervisory tools such as time limits for daily usage, mandatory breaks and to see data showing how much time the person spent on platform.
  • monitor their connections and who they block
  • be alerted if any privacy, content moderation or messaging settings are altered

The Bill does create a safe harbor if platforms apply assurance that is at least 95% effective, and obtain verifiable parental consent for the use of their platform by children.

There was a wide range of testimony from experts in child psychology, cybersecurtity and the US Surgeon General, who stated: “I am concerned that Social Media has now become one of the drivers of the youth mental health crisis.  The time for half measures has passed”.

You can watch the full hearing here (select Wed Feb 14) and our own contribution is below.

 

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