Expanding upon her efforts to address the negative effects that social media platforms have been found to have on minors, Illinois Senate Deputy Minority Leader Sue Rezin (R-Morris) held a press conference at the State Capitol to unveil the core pieces of her “Safe Screens, Healthy Minds” legislative package.
“While social media offers opportunities for communication and learning, we know from research and whistleblowers that they also pose a significant risk to our youth if we continue to leave them unchecked,” said Sen. Rezin. “While I truly hope that the federal government takes more decisive action on this issue, Illinois officials cannot continue to wait for a Congressional solution when we have the power to do something now.”
Sen. Rezin’s Safe Screens, Healthy Minds legislative package will include several pieces of legislation, with three bills at its core. The first bill is Senate Bill 3334, also known as the Illinois Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (AADC). The legislation is originally based on the law that California passed, but with improved language. The AADC requires high default privacy settings at the point of design, and clear language and tools to help children and their parents exercise their privacy rights and report concerns.
“Although the AADC is about data privacy, it will help strengthen and protect children’s mental health by changing how digital companies currently engage with children,” said Sen. Rezin. “The devious and harmful practices harming minors is mostly driven by companies’ desire to collect data in order to sell it. By protecting minors’ personal data, we can mitigate the negative effects they experience while using social media platforms.”
The second core piece of legislation in Sen. Rezin’s package is Senate Bill 3355, which expands the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act over social media. The bill would require all social media companies to have a free customer support service to address issues and complaints. Companies would have three days to address valid complaints or face possible fines.
“If enacted, this expansion of our state’s consumer protection laws will provide Illinoisans with more access to much-needed assistance in removing inappropriate content,” continued Sen. Rezin. “Far too often, people rightly report inappropriate content on these platforms, only to see their complaints go unanswered for weeks or even months.”
The final core piece of the Safe Screens, Healthy Minds initiative will be an amendment that will require social media platforms to create an identity verification process in order to protect minors.
“During my recent roundtable discussions, I repeatedly heard concerned parents and educators request some form of identity verification process in order to protect unsuspecting minors from individuals looking to trick and harm them,” stated Sen. Rezin. “While we are still working on the best way to implement this process, this bill will certainly become an invaluable piece of my legislative package.”
While Sen. Rezin refines her legislative package, she continues to seek feedback from Illinois parents, educators, and mental health professionals. Illinoisans who would like to share their story or input can fill out her online survey.