Hours before controversial internet censorship laws were set to take effect in Texas and Arkansas, two federal judges granted preliminary injunctions temporarily blocking them.
The more narrow Texas law sought to restrict minors from accessing content
that is meant for adults. The law in particular required age/ID verification to access porn websites. It was opposed by free speech groups and adult performer industry groups.
The Arkansas law, known as the Social Media Safety Act, is broader and
would prevent minors from creating accounts without parental permission on platforms earning more than $100 million a year. The tech industry trade group NetChoice, which represents Google, Meta and TikTok, among others, sued in June to block the law on
the grounds that it is unconstitutional and would place an onerous burden on digital platforms. In Arkansas, U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks sided with NetChoice , saying that the law is not targeted to address the harms it has identified, and
further research is necessary before the State may begin to construct a regulation that is narrowly tailored to address the harms that minors face due to prolonged use of certain social media. Brooks added that age--gating social media platforms does not
seem to be an effective approach when, in reality, it is the content on particular platforms that is driving the State's true concerns.
The more narrow Texas law seeking to stop minors from accessing adult content online was temporarily blocked
Thursday by District Judge David Alan Ezra in a move that the Free Speech Coalition said in a press release will protect citizens from facing a chilling effect on legally-protected speech.
The temporary injunctions block the laws from taking
effect until further adjudication. It is unclear whether both Arkansas and Texas intend to appeal.