Louisiana lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that, if signed, would restrict people under 18 from creating accounts with online services without the consent of a parent or guardian. The bill, HB61, now goes to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards for final approval. If he signs the bill, it will go into effect on August 1, 2024.
The bill states that no “interactive computer service” can enter into an agreement with a minor without the consent of a guardian. However, an interactive computer service is a broad term that can include any online service that requires a person to log into an account, such as an online video game account or email account.
The bill would also allow parents to retroactively cancel any terms of service agreements a minor has already signed with online services. But this only reinforces the Louisiana Civil Code, which already allows a guardian to void a contract entered into by a minor.
However, some critics say the bill is too broad and could have unintended consequences. Servando Esparza, executive director of tech industry group TechNet, tweeted that HB61 could threaten people’s privacy.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.
The passage of this bill comes several weeks after the US Surgeon General issued an advisory regarding the effects of social media for young people’s mental health.
“Children are exposed to harmful content on social media, ranging from violent and sexual content to abuse and harassment,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in a press release. “We are in the midst of a national crisis in young people’s mental health and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis – one that we urgently need to address.”
If HB61 becomes law, Louisiana would join states such as Arkansas and Utah that have passed similar bills that require minors to obtain the consent of a guardian before creating social media accounts.