Saturday, May 25, 2024

Legal Talk Texas: Happy Mother’s Day! New law aims to protect children online

Mothers strive to protect their children, and we salute all Mothers this May for their beautiful instincts of worry and concern over well, EVERYTHING. We salute Mothers for the burdens they take on for their children.

On September 1, 2024, the Texas House gift to Texas Mothers goes into effect. House Bill 18 “USE OF DIGITAL SERVICES BY MINORS” implements protections for the use of Social Media by Minor Children.

Online service providers request personal information to sign up for services, to receive offers, to access websites and applications, to subscribe to their service, and allow the minors to communicate with others. Minors can be susceptible to online offers and sign up for subscriptions that may require a Legislative act to cancel, and each month you see $2.99 hit your credit card.

Under the new law, minors cannot make purchases without verified approval of a parent or guardian. The process will certainly be more inconvenient but should provide Mothers piece of mind that their child just cannot make costly purchases without a parent’s signature.

The new law also attempts to protect minors from information and materials that may be seen as requiring parental guidance. The bill requires providers to create a strategy to prevent minors from being exposed to harmful content that promotes, glorifies, or facilitates (1) suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, (2) substance abuse, (3) stalking, bullying or harassment, or (4) grooming, trafficking, child pornography, or other sexual exploitation.

The final bill also requires providers to use reasonable care to protect minors from targeted, algorithmic marketing for items that a minor could not purchase under Texas laws (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol or vape products).

The Governor signed the bill on June 13, 2023 and the final bill can be read here: legiscan.com/TX/bill/HB18/2023.

Attorney Mayer is an attorney at Hammerle Finley Law Firm, a boutique law firm offering services in estate planning, probate, guardianship, business law, litigation, and real estate. Contact him at (972) 436-9300. This article does not constitute as legal advice.

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