A new law in the State of Arkansas, set to come into effect on September 1, 2023, requires social network operators to verify the age of users. If the user is a minor under the age of 18, they are not allowed to open an account without explicit consent from their parents. Arkansas is now the second state to restrict minors from using social media, following Utah which enacted a similar law that will come into effect in about a year, the Utah Social Media Regulation Act. Unlike the bill in Utah, which only applies to social networks with at least 5 million users, the Arkansas law applies only to social networks with annual revenue exceeding $100 million. The law in Arkansas broadly defines a “social network” to include any online service that has users from Arkansas and a primary function that links users so that they can engage in social interaction through the service. The law in Arkansas does not extend to email services, private messaging services, and e-commerce websites and platforms. Social networks, however, will be required to verify the age of users through a third-party service, and the verification can be based on a driver’s license. Violation of the law will give rise to a civil right of action for damages of up to $2,500 for each minor affected, which may also provide a basis for class action lawsuits. Experts have pointed out that age verification using forms of identification like a driver’s license may require a biometric comparison between the user’s photo and the user’s live video image. Yet under federal and other state laws, processing of biometric data is subject to stringent rules, such as the freely given informed consent of the data subject.
Click here to read the new law in Arkansas.
Click here to read the press release of the State of Utah on the Utah Social Media Regulation Act.