COLUMBUS, Ohio—Technological innovation and entrepreneurialism have empowered Ohioans to expand their businesses, increase their learning opportunities and explore their own creativity. Unfortunately, Ohio lawmakers have launched a crusade that would barricade digital tools and services behind walls that violate constitutional rights, compromises data privacy and security for Ohioans of all ages and usurps the rights of parents to raise and care for their children as they see fit.
NetChoice is a trade association dedicated to protecting free expression and free enterprise online across America. Today, we are suing the State of Ohio and asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to stop the Social Media Parental Notification Act from going into effect on January 15, 2024, while our lawsuit, NetChoice v. Yost, moves through the legal system. We have already won successful challenges against California and Arkansas for trying to impose similar restrictions.
Ohio lawmakers had good intentions, being concerned about the mental health and well being of young people. But unfortunately, they chose a path that violates constitutional rights and rips away a parent’s authority to care for their child as they find appropriate—all while violating the safety and security of ALL Ohioans, especially kids and teens. NetChoice is fighting to stop it.
“We at NetChoice believe families equipped with educational resources are capable of determining the best approach to online services and privacy protections for themselves,” said Chris Marchese, Director of the NetChoice Litigation Center. “With NetChoice v. Yost, we will fight to ensure all Ohioans can embrace digital tools without their privacy, security and rights being thwarted.”
Ohioans do not have to choose between protecting their kids online, their constitutional rights or their personal privacy. With NetChoice v. Yost, we will fight to ensure that this Invasion of Privacy Act is overturned.
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About NetChoice v. Yost
Ohio’s Social Media Parental Notification Act violates the U.S. Constitution in several ways:
- First Amendment: Conditioning all Ohioans’ First Amendment right to share and receive information online on their willingness to hand over their most sensitive, personal data to age-verification services.
- Overly broad: The Act imposes a parental consent requirement for the internet broadly. This implicates a vast territory of speech that lies at the heartland of First Amendment protection. If parental consent requirements are unlawful for violent video games, then are unlawful here, too.
- Drafting issues: The Act’s definitions and descriptions are unclear. To effectively regulate something, a law must be understandable. The Act’s definitions make clear that the drafters did not spend enough time understanding how social media works in practice.
The Act also endangers the online privacy and security of all Ohioans—adults and children alike:
- By forcing all Ohioans to hand over their most sensitive documents (like drivers licenses, social security cards, and other verifying documents) to tech companies to verify both age and identity.
- Forcing tech companies to host this sensitive data about all users—adults and children—will make them a prime target for cyber criminals and predators.
In taking this path, Ohio lawmakers are also putting big government, not parents, in charge of how families use the internet. Instead, parents should be empowered to make these decisions.
Today, parents and guardians have the power to control their children’s online experiences. There are so many tools and services available to them to keep their kids safe and secure online. Kids, too, can be educated to understand how to safely and securely use digital tools, following recent models from Virginia and Florida.
NetChoice is fighting to protect free expression and free enterprise online in Ohio and across America.