Arkansas Attorney General Joins Coalition Urging Congress to Address AI’s Exploitation of Children

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin’s office recently joined a coalition of state attorneys general urging congress to address the ways in which artificial intelligence may be used to exploit children.

In a statement, Attorney General Griffin said,

AI poses a very real threat to our children. This ‘new frontier for abuse’ opens the door for children to be exploited in new ways, including publishing their location and mimicking their voice and likeness in sexual or other objectionable content.

The bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the country expressed concern over how artificial intelligence and “deepfake” technology might be used to generate child sexual abuse material — also known as child pornography.

In 2001 the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 1496 addressing computer exploitation of a child. The law generally makes it a felony to produce or reproduce child sexual abuse material “by computerized means.”

At the time there was serious discussion about how computers and computer software could be used to manufacture child sexual abuse material. Of course, in 2001 very few people could have imagined the artificial intelligence technology that exists today, but lawmakers recognized the need to address the issue — and Family Council supported the good law they passed.

As technology changes and artificial intelligence advances, lawmakers likely will need to enact new legislation to protect children. That is what this coalition of state attorneys general is calling on lawmakers to do.

You Can Read the Coalition’s Letter and Call to Action Here.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

Federal Judge Blocks State of Arkansas’ Parental Consent Requirements for Social Media

On Thursday a federal judge in Fayetteville blocked the State of Arkansas from requiring social media companies to obtain parental consent before letting children use their products.

In April the Arkansas Legislature passed the Social Media Safety Act — a good law by Sen. Tyler Dees (R – Siloam Springs) and Rep. Jon Eubanks (R – Paris) requiring major social media companies to ensure minors don’t access social media platforms without parental consent. A social media company that violated the law could be held liable.

In response, tech giants — such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok — as well as the ACLU have asked the federal courts to strike down the Social Media Safety Act as unconstitutional.

On Thursday U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks in Fayetteville blocked the state from enforcing this good law.

Among other things, Judge Brooks’ ruling claims that Arkansas’ Social Safety Act is unconstitutionally broad and vague, and that most social media content is not “damaging, harmful, or obscene as to minors.”

Social media platforms are a product created and managed by social media companies — and more and more evidence shows that social media is harmful to children.

In May the U.S. Surgeon General released a health advisory highlighting the dangers of social media use by children and calling on lawmakers to take action.

The advisory noted that, “Social media may perpetuate body dissatisfaction, disordered eating behaviors, social comparison, and low self-esteem, especially among adolescent girls,” and it encouraged policymakers to take steps to strengthen social media safety standards and limit social media access in ways that make it safer for children and better protect children’s privacy.

Right now, the State of Arkansas is suing Chinese company ByteDance — the parent company of TikTok — for allegedly violating Arkansas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The State of Arkansas has alleged that that the social media giant failed to fully disclose that TikTok is subject to Chinese law — including “laws that mandate secret cooperation with intelligence activities of the People’s Republic of China” — and that that TikTok “routinely exposes Arkansas consumers’ data, without their knowledge, to access and exploitation by the Chinese Government and Communist Party.”

If that’s true, then that means TikTok might not be respecting the privacy of the millions of teenagers who use TikTok. That’s a serious problem.

The adults who operate these social media platforms should not be able to register children as users and let children post photos and videos on their platforms without parental consent. 

Arkansas’ Social Safety Act is a good law that respects parental rights and protects children online. We believe higher courts will recognize that and uphold this law as constitutional.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

Social Media Serves “Diet of Darkness” to Teens: WSJ

A recent Wall Street Journal column highlights how social media giant TikTok is serving teens “a diet of darkness” online.

Julie Jargon writes,

recent study found that when researchers created accounts belonging to fictitious 13-year-olds, they were quickly inundated with videos about eating disorders, body image, self-harm and suicide.

If that sounds familiar, a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2021 found that TikTok steers viewers to dangerous content. TikTok has since strengthened parental controls and promised a more even-keeled algorithm, but the new study suggests the app experience for young teens has changed little.

The article goes on to offer examples of harmful content directed at teens — including content that encourages suicide ideation, eating disorders, and other dangerous activities.

All of this underscores that Arkansas’ lawmakers did the right thing this year by passing legislation to regulate social media use among minors.

In April the state’s General Assembly passed S.B. 396, the Social Media Safety Act, by Sen. Tyler Dees (R – Siloam Springs) and Rep. Jon Eubanks (R – Paris) says that social media companies must use age verification to ensure minors do not access social media platforms without parental consent.

The measure contains protections for user privacy. A social media company that violated the law could be held liable.

S.B. 396 narrowly cleared the Arkansas Senate, but received strong support in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Governor Sanders signed it into law following its passage.

More and more, we hear stories illustrating how social media platforms host content that isn’t suitable for children. The adults who operate these platforms should not be able to register children as users without parental consent. Laws like S.B. 396 help address this serious problem.