Session: 2023-2024

ACLU-PA Position: Opposes

HB 2017 (PN 2746) would amend Title 50 (Mental Health) to restrict young people (under 16 years old) from accessing social media content that might cause harm to the “physical health, mental health or the wellbeing of a minor.” Social media companies or platforms that violate this requirement can be sued for actual and punitive damages. HB 2017 would also, among other provisions, allow social media companies to monitor chats between minors and then notify parents if their chats include "flagged content," as defined by the social media platform.

Although this legislation is well-intentioned, the ACLU-PA opposes HB 2017 for the following reasons:

  • HB 2017 would threaten the First Amendment rights of young people by inviting social media companies to censor content they deem "harmful" to minors.
  • HB 2017 would define causing “harm” to minors broadly and subjectively, allowing the PA Attorney General to decide when/if to punish companies for allowing young people to access content the Attorney General determines is "harmful."
  • HB 2017 will likely have dire consequences for young people, especially vulnerable youth, by making it difficult for young people to access vital resources on issues such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and reproductive health issues, to name a few.
  • HB 2017 would invite parental surveillance, potentially denying kids access to supportive communities.
  • Finally, HB 2017 begs important implementation, monitoring, and enforcement questions, since this type of legislation should properly be handled at the federal level and should avoid contributing to a patchwork of ad hoc requirements that differ from state to state.

For more detailed information on the ACLU's position on bills like these, click on the PDF posted below from the ACLU's national office.

Check the bill's status here.


Representative Brian Munroe



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