Ron DeSantis Signs Florida's Age Verification Bill Into Law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a far-right Republican and critic of the adult entertainment industry, has signed into law House Bill (HB) 3, a measure that prohibits social media use for minors under the age of 14 and requires that 14- and 15-year-olds gain approval from their parents for new social media use.

HB 3 also requires most websites with a large portion of content classified as "harmful to minors" to implement so-called reasonable age verification measures to ensure that users logging on from Florida-based IP addresses are 18 years or older. These sites include adult platforms that deal with sexually explicit material. 

"HB 3 gives parents a greater ability to protect their children," DeSantis said in a press release. "Thank you to Speaker Renner for delivering this landmark legislation.”

DeSantis refers to House Speaker Paul Renner, who said, "The internet has become a dark alley for our children where predators target them, and dangerous social media leads to higher rates of depression, self-harm, and even suicide."

DeSantis chose to initially repeal House Bill 1, a similar bill, in favor of HB 3, which he called a "superior" bill.

The new law is considerably broad in how it would apply to web platforms. It is likely that social media companies and the parent companies of adult entertainment platforms could file federal lawsuits in Florida to prevent the law from taking effect. According to the bill text, HB 3 enters force on January 1, 2025.

“The age-verification requirements in HB 3 place barriers between users, whether they’re adults or minors, and their constitutional right to speak online," said Kara Gross, the legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, in a joint press release with other civil liberties groups.

"Age verification requirements blatantly chill the speech and threaten the privacy of adults by requiring them to surrender their anonymity to engage in constitutionally protected speech," said Gross.

Tampa Bay Times reports that House Bill 3's potential attraction for legal challenges will emulate what has been seen in Arkansas. There, a federal district judge ruled that an age ban on social media violated minors' First Amendment rights.