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IPFS News Link • Legislative Mischief

A New Federal Bill Could Require You To Show Facebook and Twitter Your Government ID


Rep. Chis Stewart (R–Utah) last week introduced a bill that would require social media platforms to verify the age of every registered user and prohibit registering children younger than 16. But the bill would serve neither the interests of young teenagers nor adults. 

H.R. 821, which Stuart introduced in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, requires platforms to verify age using government identification, such as a birth certificate or a driver's license. The bill would apply to any platform that allows users to make accounts for posting, sharing, or viewing user-generated content (UGC). In addition, to be covered, a platform's primary purpose must be the dissemination of UGC.

This spacious definition of "social media" could be interpreted by regulators to include messaging, video, and email services, none of which are explicitly excluded from the statute's provisions. And unlike many recent proposals to regulate online life, the bill does not establish a market cap threshold to spare smaller platforms from having to collect sensitive information from users—which would be costly to protect and would threaten users' privacy in the event of a data leak.

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