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Governor DeSantis Vetoes Bill Banning Social Media for Minors, Teases ‘Superior’ Alternative

Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, vetoed an attempt by Republican lawmakers to impose a 16-year age limit on social media usage, citing concerns over parental and First Amendment rights.

Announcement of Veto

Credits: DepositPhotos – Des Moines, Iowa, USA – August 12, 2023: Florida Republican Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis greets supporters at the Iowa State Fair fair side chats in Des Moines, Iowa. — Photo by jhansen2

On March 1, Governor DeSantis announced the veto of HB 1, Online Protection for Minors, highlighting the anticipation of a superior bill to come.

Governor’s Statement

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“I have vetoed HB 1 because the Legislature is about to produce a different, superior bill,” DeSantis stated on X, emphasizing the importance of protecting children and supporting parental rights.

Provisions of HB-1

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HB-1 aimed to require social media companies to terminate accounts of children under 16, prohibit the sale of minors’ data, and mandate age verification for harmful material distribution.

Potential Penalties for Non-compliance

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Social media companies failing to comply with HB-1 would face prosecution under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Legislative Process and Debate

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The bill passed the House of Representatives and the Senate amidst discussions on parental rights, especially for minors with monetized accounts.

Introduction of CS/CS/HB 3

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A new bill, CS/CS/HB 3, “Online Access to Materials Harmful to Minors,” is moving through the Senate, potentially reaching the governor’s desk soon.

Distinctions from HB-1

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Unlike HB-1, CS/CS/HB 3 does not require social media companies to terminate accounts of users younger than 16 or prohibit new account creation.

Focus of CS/CS/HB 3

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This bill targets companies distributing content harmful to minors, raising the age of concern to 18 and exempting certain organizations and service providers.

Requirements and Exemptions

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Companies must make harmful content inaccessible to minors, verify ages reasonably, and report unauthorized access, with exemptions for certain providers.

Prohibitions and Legal Actions

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CS/CS/HB 3 maintains prohibitions on retaining certain personal information and authorizes legal action under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Effective Date

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If passed, CS/CS/HB 3 will become effective on July 1, 2024, marking a new chapter in Florida’s approach to online protection for minors.

Legislative Timeline

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The bill’s progress comes as the legislative session approaches its end, with a reading scheduled for March 4 and a closing date of March 8.

Governor’s Anticipation

Credits: DepositPhotos – Doug Mastriano and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at Unite and Win rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. August 19, 2022, Pittsburgh, PA, USA: Turning Point Action’s Unite and Win Rally ft Gov Ron DeSantis and Doug Mastriano in Pittsburgh — Photo by thenews2.com

Governor DeSantis looks forward to the new bill, emphasizing its alignment with his priorities for child protection, parental rights, and free speech.

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