Gov. Ron DeSantis Vetoes Social Media Bill

Gov. Ron DeSantis made a significant decision on Friday regarding a bill aimed at regulating social media use by minors in Florida. He ultimately vetoed the bill, expressing concerns about parental rights and the effectiveness of the proposed law. However, DeSantis hinted at his support for a revised version of the bill that focuses on enhancing parental control and safeguarding minors online.

The vetoed bill, which had garnered approval from both chambers of the Florida Legislature and was championed by House Speaker Paul Renner, sought to prevent individuals under the age of 16 from creating social media accounts. It also mandated platforms to delete accounts of minors upon request by the minors themselves or their parents. Additionally, the bill included provisions for social media companies to implement age verification processes to enforce these restrictions.

Despite the bill’s passage in both legislative branches, DeSantis raised concerns about how it could impact parental oversight of children’s online activities. “I have vetoed HB 1 because the Legislature is about to produce a different, superior bill,” he stated. He emphasized the importance of protecting children from the potential harms associated with social media, supporting parents’ rights, and preserving adults’ ability to engage in anonymous speech.

Lawmakers had already introduced changes to the legislation in anticipation of the veto. An amendment filed by Sen. Erin Grall aimed to address the enforcement gap in existing federal laws that prohibit children under 13 from having online accounts by introducing third-party age verification. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo signaled a willingness to explore additional legislation for age verification on pornography websites.

The revised proposal, encapsulated in HB 3, includes provisions for the deletion of accounts and personal data for minors under 14 and allows for parental intervention for those up to age 16. House Speaker Paul Renner highlighted that HB 3 would empower parents to control their children’s online activities while ensuring minors are protected from the potential harm caused by addictive social media platforms.

HB 3 is set to be heard by the Florida Senate in the upcoming week. Renner expressed optimism about the bill’s potential to serve as a model for other states, reaffirming Florida’s leadership in safeguarding children.

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