Florida Legislature Passes Sweeping, DeSantis-Endorsed Age Verification Bill

Florida Legislature Passes Sweeping, DeSantis-Endorsed Age Verification Bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida legislature has passed a sweeping age verification bill that includes provisions applying specifically to adult websites, with Gov. Ron DeSantis calling the bill “superior” to a competing measure he vetoed days earlier.

The State Senate passed HB 3 on Monday, on Wednesday the House voted 109-4 to approve it and send it to DeSantis’ desk, the local NBC affiliate reported.

“This is something that I believe will save the current generation and generations to come if we’re successful,” Republican House Speaker Paul Renner stated.

NBC 6 reported, “The bill, in part, would prevent children under age 16 from opening social media accounts — though it would allow parents to give consent for 14- and 15-year-olds to have accounts. Children under 14 could not open accounts.”

The bill also requires adult websites to implement age verification in order to prevent anyone under 18 from accessing them.

As XBIZ reported, after DeSantis vetoed the earlier bill, HB 1, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told the Florida Politics news site that Renner and De Santis were “working together on language that will work for them to basically fix the concerns that the Governor has with HB 1. And my understanding is that they are in a really good spot.”

The version of HB 3 that was approved by the legislature is a much expanded version of the bill introduced earlier this year by Rep. Chase Tramont, a politician and ordained clergyman who serves as pastor at Oceanway Church in New Smyrna Beach. Tramont's bill originally only targeted adult websites, but broader regulations about social media were added to it later.

Florida-based First Amendment expert Lawrence Walters, of Walters Law Group, wrote to the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of his client, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, opposing the bill’s age verification requirements as “not only unconstitutional and a danger to consumer privacy, but ineffective at preventing minors from accessing adult content.”

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