State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, expanded her efforts to address negative changes that social media platforms have on minors during a news conference Wednesday, sharing the core 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,” Rezin said during the news conference. “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.”
Rezin said the initiative is made up of several pieces of legislation, with three bills at the core.
The first is Senate Bill 3334, the Illinois Age-Appropriate Design Code Act. The legislation is based on a law passed in California with altered language. It requires high default privacy settings at the point of design and clear language and tools to help children and parents exercise 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,” Rezin said. “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 is Senate Bill 3355, which expands the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to cover social media. It 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 otherwise face 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,” Rezin said. “Far too often, people rightly report inappropriate content on these platforms only to see their complaints go unanswered for weeks or even months.”
The third core piece of legislation is an amendment that requires social media platforms to create an identity verification process 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,” Rezin said. “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.”
Rezin is continuing to refine this group of legislation while seeking feedback from Illinois parents, educators and mental health professionals. Those interested can share their story or input at https://il-38-senate.web.fireside21.app/forms/form/?ID=9.