Iowa bill would require parental permission for minors to create social media accounts

(ABC 6 News) – Iowa lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require minors to get permission from their parents to create social media accounts like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others.

The original version of the bill, House File 712, banned Iowans under 18 from creating social media accounts, but has been amended by Republican lawmakers to include parental consent after criticism from large tech companies and parents.

The updated version of the bill would prevent social media companies from collecting data from those under age 18 without “verifiable parental consent” and would put the burden on social media companies on finding a way to get parents to sign off.

Federal law prohibits social media companies from collecting data on children under 13 without parental consent, however children can easily create a social media account with or without their parents’ permission.

Republicans say this will help keep minors safe online, but Democrats say they want to narrow down the definition of “social media companies.”

“I’m a believer in parents’ rights, and I believe that parents should have the ability or the right to decide what their child does,” said bill floor manager Rep. John Wills, (R-Spirit Lake). “We don’t want to stop people from accessing the social media platform. But what we do want to do is make sure that the parent knows that they’re accessing these social media platforms.”

“I am afraid that the definition of social media platform is still a little too broad. I am afraid there is going to be unintended consequences in terms of school access potentially and places like Linkedin,” said Iowa State Representative Elizabeth Wilson, (D) District 73.

The bill says that social media companies would be subject to a $1,000 fine for violations.

The bill already passed through the Ways and Means Committee, and could be debated on the House floor this week.