Utah Division Of Consumer Protection Sets Hearing Date And Public Comment Period
SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah Office of Administrative Rules has published the Utah Social Media Regulation Act (SMRA) rule, crafted and submitted by the Department of Commerce’s Division of Consumer Protection (Division). The Division invites the public to submit comments on the rule and share experiences with minors on social media platforms at socialmedia.utah.gov until February 5, 2024. A public hearing will be held at the Capitol Senate Building in room 220 on November 1, from 9:00 to 11:00 am.
According to SMRA, a social media company must verify if a user is a minor and then require the minor user to obtain parental consent before they may open or maintain an account. Over the last several months, the Division researched age verification and parental consent methodologies and reviewed stakeholder input to inform the rulemaking process.
The Division has determined that existing technologies can verify accurately whether a user is a minor. Social media companies may utilize these technologies, examples of which are listed in the rule, enabling them to offer users multiple secure and private options while balancing cost, accuracy, and the level of friction for obtaining an account.
The Division has modeled its parental consent requirements on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) standard under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which outlines what operators of websites and online services must do to protect children’s data, privacy, and safety online. In addition to the FTC standard, the SMRA rule will require parents to attest that they are authorized to give their consent for the minor user.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox stated, “The health and well-being of our kids are at stake, and we take that seriously. We are eager for the Social Media Regulation Act to take effect. This rule ensures that social media companies prioritize the safety and privacy of Utah’s youth while allowing them the flexibility to select methods that best meet their needs.”
“Low-cost technologies already exist for these companies to verify the ages of their users while also protecting their privacy. As such, this rule puts the onus on the social media companies to accurately age verify and obtain parental consent. Furthermore, the Division has the flexibility to refine the rule as technology advances,” said Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Woolley Busse.
After considering public comments, the SMRA rule will go into effect, and social media companies have until March 1, 2024, to comply. The Division may assess fines of up to $2,500 per violation if a company fails to comply.
Please visit socialmedia.utah.gov for the most up-to-date information about the state of Utah’s initiative to hold social media companies accountable for their harm to Utah’s youth.