New Texas law gives parents control over childrens’ online activity

Texas signed law requiring digital service providers to obtain parental and guardian consent before allowing minors to establish an account.

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On 14 June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new social media bill called ‘Safeguarding Children Online through Parental Empowerment’ into law, which will require digital service providers to create an easily accessible method to obtain consent from a parent or guardian before allowing minor users to open an account on their platforms.

The bill’s head proponent, Texas state representative Shelby Slawson, says the level of control is essential to reduce potential harm from the platforms. Still, critiques say there are privacy issues about the amount of data access parents are provided.

The new legislation addresses the negative consequences of excessive exposure to digital platforms and predatory algorithms, such as a higher incidence of self-harm, suicide, substance addiction, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and other mental health difficulties. It gives parents and guardians extensive control over kids’ internet accounts, including the opportunity to inspect and recover personal information about the minor and request its deletion. These regulations do not apply to digital platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. The law also requires service providers to verify the identification and relationship of the consenting minor’s parent or guardian.

Technology giants like Meta and Google have come out against the legislation, warning that it might weaken existing safeguards for underage users and push companies to acquire more sensitive data for identification verification.