RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The Virginia Senate voted down Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to require children under 18 to get parental approval to set up social media accounts and use most websites that collect user data.
Gov. Youngkin (R) amended a bill the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed in February that requires pornography websites to verify users are at least 18 years old before they access the site’s content.
The governor recommended changes to the underlying bill that take the verification requirements even further, specifically for those between the ages of 14 and 17.
Youngkin’s proposed changes would have applied to sites and social media platforms that control or process the personal data of at least 100,000 people during a calendar year, or at least 25,000 consumers while making more than 50% of their gross revenue from selling users’ data.
The sites would have been required to “make reasonable efforts” to get parental verification in one of three ways: a signed consent form, using a credit card or a government-issued ID.
These online data collection rules apply to children 13 years old and younger under Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act. Youngkin’s proposal would have implemented the rules for children 14 to 17.
The Democrat-led state Senate voted 18-22 to reject the proposed changes, with some Democrats raising concerns over the constitutionality of the recommendations.
“This makes a bad bill even worse,” state Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke), one of the three senators who voted against the initial bill. “Is that even possible?”
“Today, Virginia Democrats decided to side with big tech over the safety of Virginia’s children,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement. “It’s clear that Democrats are neither committed to empowering parents, nor protecting Virginia’s children from dangerous social media practices, nor ensuring that children’s data is protected from being sold or used for profiling purposes.”
Only three state senators voted against the underlying bill in early February, with two rejecting the House’s amendments to the legislation later that month.
Youngkin will decide whether to sign the bill passed by lawmakers or veto the legislation.