SCOTUS Will Hear Texas Age-Gating Case

July 2, 2024

This morning, the Supreme Court granted cert in a case challenging the constitutionality of a Texas law that requires users to verify their ages before accessing websites where more than one-third of the available material is sexually explicit. The following statement can be attributed to Megan Iorio, Senior Counsel:

“This is an important grant. Legislatures across the country are grappling with how to better protect children online. One of the dominant approaches, and the one Texas took, is age gating certain content deemed harmful to minors. The Court has not looked favorably on such approaches historically because they might interfere with adults’ access to content. But there have been significant changes in technology since the Court decided Reno v. ACLU and Ashcroft v. ACLU and the availability of privacy-protective age assurance methods may change the constitutional analysis. If the Court finds the Texas law unconstitutional, it would still leave open a wide range of content-neutral design regulation options that are likely more effective at protecting kids online than content restrictions. No matter how the Court rules, it will hopefully provide needed guidance to legislatures about how age assurance can be used online.”

EPIC has supported the constitutionality of laws that protect kids online by providing them with heightened privacy and design protections. EPIC filed an amicus brief in NetChoice’s challenge to the California Age-Appropriate Design Code distinguishing the law from age-gating laws like Texas’ and explaining that the type of age estimation called for in the law does not impede adults’ access to content and does not violate the First Amendment.

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