In granting NetChoice’s request for a preliminary injunction against the law, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks expressed deep reservations about its constitutionality and efficacy.
Brooks wrote 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.”
The law, which was supposed to take effect Friday, marks the latest in a bevy of attempts at the state level to restrict or ban minors’ access to social media over concerns that the platforms exacerbate mental health issues for younger users.
Thursday’s ruling deals a setback to those efforts, which are facing broad resistance from tech industry groups including NetChoice and civil liberties advocates, who argue many of those measures infringe on users’ free speech rights.
In a statement, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) said he was “disappointed” by the injunction.
“I will continue to vigorously defend the law and protect our children, an important interest recognized in the federal judge’s order today,” Griffin said.
Chris Marchese, director of NetChoice’s Litigation Center, said in a statement that they “look forward to seeing the law struck down permanently.” The group counts Amazon, Google, Meta and other tech companies as members.
(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim Post chief executive Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.)
Earlier Thursday, another federal judge blocked a separate Texas law requiring websites to check users’ ages to ensure minors aren’t accessing pornographic content from going into effect. The law is being challenged by free speech advocates and the adult film industry.