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Florida governor signs law prohibiting minors under 14 from having social media accounts

The governor of the state of Florida, Republican Ron DeSantis, signed a law this Monday that prohibits minors under 14 years of age from having accounts on social networks despite criticism from several organizations that warn that it may violate the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression.

“Social networks harm children in various ways,” DeSantis explained in a statement that highlights that the law will allow 14 and 15-year-olds to have accounts only if they have their parents’ consent.

In addition to restricting social media accounts for those under 14, the law — called HB3 — imposes new restrictions on visiting pornographic websites, such as the obligation to verify age.

It also orders companies to delete existing accounts of minors. If they do not do so, they could face lawsuits or fines of up to $50,000 (46,100 euros), according to NBC News.

DeSantis vetoed a previous text approved by the Florida House of Representatives that left the prohibition age at 16 and that required identification for minors to access the networks. With this measure, Florida joins other states such as Arkansas and Utah that have proposed a social media ban for minors.

The NetChoice association, which advocates for freedom of expression on the Internet, has called it “disappointing” that DeSantis has signed a law that may violate the First Amendment with respect to accessing online resources.

“This level of data collection will put Floridians’ privacy at risk and violate their rights. This is concerning for the online safety of all Floridians and children,” he said in a statement.

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