(The Center Square) – The Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from advocates for a measure that regulates social media companies to protect children.
Senate Bill 1126 would implement new regulations to protect children from the dangers of social media to avoid predators’ hateful speech and create a safer environment for children overall.
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, explained the goal of the bill.
“Today’s discussions are crucial about how to enhance online safety for children to create a safer digital environment than the one they encountered yesterday,” Rezin said.
The measure looks to stop targeted ads and deny access to children’s social media pages to protect them from unwanted predators or messages.
State Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, asked about the potential costs of implementing the measure in the state’s schools.
“Is there any research that you are aware of that puts a number on any of these costs in terms of school districts,” Martwick asked.
The price will vary depending on school districts, and the committee was not able to give an exact figure for the costs.
The state recently enacted Senate Bill 1782, filed by state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, that requires parents who use their children as online influencers to repay their children for their content. The law applies to any child whose parents made a profit off of social media videos or any other related content.
In 2019, Illinois updated its laws regarding stalking and harassment to include digital and social media.
Rezin said that lawmakers need to act now and not wait for social media companies to make these changes independently.
“We have all heard the ‘trust us, we will handle it ourselves’ narrative before,” Rezin said. “Whether it was from the tobacco industry in the past or, more recently, the opioid industry. Social media companies can not be relied upon to self-regulate.”
Lawmakers look to discuss the measure further during the fall veto session.