Please note that on January 9, 2024, a court entered an order that prevents enforcement by the Ohio Attorney General of Ohio’s Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act, Ohio Revised Code 1349.09. Concerned parties may still file a complaint regarding potential violations of the law as written, but the court’s order prevents the Attorney General’s Office from taking any legal action regarding such complaints. If and when the law becomes enforceable, this notice will be updated.
What is the Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act?
Enacted in July 2023 by the Ohio Legislature, the Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act aims to give parents and legal guardians oversight of their children’s online presence on certain websites, services or products by requiring parental consent for use and access. The full text can be found here.
When is the law effective?
The law takes effect on Jan. 15, 2024.
Under this law, who is defined as a child?
This law defines a child as anyone under the age of 16 years unless the child is emancipated.
Who is considered a social media “operator” under this law?
An operator means anyone who operates an online website, service or product that allows users to do all of the following:
- Interact socially with other users on the website, service or product.
- Create a public or semipublic profile to sign into and use the website, service or product.
- Populate a list of other users with whom they share a connection within the website, service or product.
- Create or post content viewable by others – for example, on message boards, chat rooms, video channels, direct messages, or a main feed that contains content generated by others on the website, service or product.
Note that this law applies only to operators of an online website, service or product that targets children or is reasonably anticipated to be accessed by children. This law does not apply to e-commerce websites that allow for posting of reviews or to media outlets that report the news.
Does this law apply only to traditional social media companies, such as Facebook, Snapchat, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, etc.?
No. This law defines “operator” much more broadly than traditional social media companies. For example, it may cover gaming platforms, shared message boards, etc. that target children or are reasonably anticipated to be accessed by children.
What does an operator need to do to comply with this law?
Before allowing a child to agree to the terms of service or otherwise register, sign up or create a unique account to access or use the website, service or product, an operator must:
- Obtain parental consent by doing at least one of the following:
- Require a parent or legal guardian to sign and return a form consenting to the child’s use or access via postal mail, fax or e-mail.
- If a monetary transaction is involved, require the parent to use a credit card, debit card or other payment system that provides notification for each separate transaction.
- Require a parent or legal guardian to call a toll-free telephone number to confirm the child’s use or access.
- Require a parent or legal guardian to connect via videoconference to confirm the child’s use or access.
- Verify a parent’s or legal guardian’s identity by checking a government-issued ID.
- Present a list of features offered by the operator’s website, service or product regarding censoring or content moderation, including any features that can be disabled for a user’s profile. The operator must also provide a link of where these features are listed on the respective website, service or product.
After the operator receives parental consent, is that it?
No. After receiving initial consent, the operator must also send written confirmation to the parent or legal guardian via postal mail, fax or e-mail.
What if I received notice of consent but never consented to anything?
If you never gave your consent or consent was given in error, you must notify the operator, who must then terminate the child’s use or access within 30 days.
Can I revoke my consent?
Yes. To do this, you must notify the operator, who must then terminate the child’s use or access within 30 days. If a child is 16 or older, the operator is not required to terminate the account.
What if, as a parent or legal guardian, I choose not to give my consent?
If you do not give your consent, the operator must deny the child use or access of the website, service or product.
Do operators need to provide me with notice if my child has an existing account as of Jan. 15, 2024?
No. Operators are not required to notify parents or legal guardians of use, access or accounts created before the law’s effective date of Jan. 15, 2024.
What should I do if, after Jan. 15, 2024, I think my child has created a social media account and I did not receive notification or give consent?
File a consumer complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Select “This complaint is about: Professional Service” and “Type of Product/Service: Parental Consent.” The complaint form can be accessed here. Once a complaint is filed, the Attorney General’s Office will reach out to the operator to try to resolve the issue.
What should I do if I notified the operator to revoke my consent but that access is not terminated?
File a consumer complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Select “This complaint is about: Professional Service” and “Type of Product/Service: Parental Consent.” The complaint form can be accessed here. Once a complaint is filed, the Attorney General’s Office will reach out to the Operator to try to resolve the issue.
Can I take legal action on my own if I think an operator is violating this law?
No. Only the Ohio Attorney General can enforce this law.
What can the Ohio Attorney General do if he learns of violations committed by operators?
The Attorney General can investigate and take legal action. However, this law gives operators the chance to first correct the violation before the Attorney General can take legal action.