FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Fayetteville judge heard arguments today for a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas regarding a new social media law.
Act 689, otherwise known as Senate Bill 396 or the Social Media Safety Act, was signed into law by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in April and is set to go into effect on Sept. 1.
The law requires any social media company with over $100 million in revenue to confirm any new user is either over 18 years old or has a parent’s permission before they can create an account.
NetChoice, a tech trade association based in Washington, D.C. with notable members such as Meta and X, formerly known as Twitter, sued the state over the law, claiming that it violates the First Amendment.
The group filed a lawsuit against the state earlier this year, followed by a motion for a preliminary injunction that was filed on June 29.
Meta, as well as the ACLU, filed formal declarations in support of NetChoice.
Legal representatives for the defense told Judge Timothy Brooks that a function of the law is to protect children by rooting out sexual predators.
Brooks questioned if the act was capable of accomplishing that goal.
“If this is the concern of the state, it seems there are large holes in what they are trying to do,” Brooks said.
Brooks noted that there are certain social media sites, such as Kik and Google Hangouts, that are often named in child sex crimes cases that are not affected by the bill because of the revenue requirement.
During the hearing, the state called expert witness Tony Allen to the stand to testify.
Allen is the founder and CEO of the Age Check Certification Scheme, a group based in Europe that specializes in systems that check age and identity.
Brooks heard arguments from both sides on NetChoice’s motion but said that it would take time for him to consider the positions.
Brooks did note that he hoped to have a ruling before the law goes into effect. If Brooks rules in favor of NetChoice’s motion for injunction, the law could be temporarily blocked from going into effect.