Bill to ban minors in Virginia from using TikTok dies in General Assembly

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill to ban minors in Virginia from using the social media app TikTok has died in the House of Delegates and will not advance in the General Assembly.

A bipartisan vote advanced House Bill 1468, a bill that would prohibit the social media app TikTok from being available to minors in the Commonwealth, to the Committee for Courts of Justice, but a lack of movement forced the bill to die on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

House Bill 1468 initially sought to give the attorney general the authority to restrict the use of TikTok for minors, but a new substitute of the bill was brought forth to the Courts of Justice to provide a different approach to a TikTok ban.

“The amendment in the nature of the substitute takes a totally different direction, and what it does [is] it creates a civil cause of action for a parent who’s child is able to access TikTok,” Del. Jay Leftwich (R-City of Chesapeake) said.

The latest version of the bill said, “…the plaintiff shall recover damages of $75,000 for each discrete violation, other damages, and reasonable costs and attorney fees.”

Del. Leftwich said the sole purpose of the bill was in regard to the mental health and data privacy concerns that the app poses for minors.

Some House Delegates in the Committee of Communications, Technology and Innovation shared support for the bill.

“I think parents take their responsibility to handle this stuff extremely seriously, but they need help,” Del. Mark Early (R – Chesterfield County) said. “We’re about a decade into this sort of smart phone, social media experiment and it hasn’t taken very long to see some pretty dire consequences.”

However, some delegates voiced concerns for how the bill will be enforced, and whether TikTok should be the only social media platform singled out.

“I will not be supporting this bill because I think it’s unfair to single out TikTok. I would say there is a bigger issue with Instagram for example,” Del. Holly Seibold (D – Fairfax County) said.

Del. Michelle Lopes Maldonado (D – Prince William County) brought forth the possibility of an amendment to include more social media platforms in the bill, but Del. C.E. Cliff Hayes (D – City of Chesapeake) wants to hesitate.

“I would hesitate because there are so many [social media platforms], I mean I don’t know where we stop, how we grab them all — that was my concern from the beginning,” Hayes said.

Governor Glenn Youngkin has previously pushed for a TikTok ban for minors in the Commonwealth.

In a speech given on Dec. 14, 2023 — exactly one year after the launch of the Governor’s mental and behavioral health initiative Right Help, Right Now — Youngkin mentioned his concern for minors using the TikTok app.

“Last year, I required that TikTok be removed from every state device driven by national security concerns, but when a group like TikTok who are among the most aggressive and sophisticated in social media affect our children and next generation, we will take action. Full stop. Now,” Youngkin said in his Dec. 14 speech last year.

The Governor’s Office recently said in a statement that Youngkin, “remains committed to empowering parents in Virginia and protecting youth in the Commonwealth from social media’s harmful impacts.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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