How age-verification laws threaten our First Amendment right to anonymity. “Since the early history of the United States, Americans have enjoyed the right to anonymous speech,” notes Shoshana Weissmann of the R Street Institute. “The First Amendment protects this right, and the Supreme Court has long recognized it. The tradition dates back even farther than the anonymous signers of the Federalist Papers in the 1780s and includes a unanimous Supreme Court case decision in which it was ruled that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) did not have to disclose names on membership lists to Alabama officials in 1958.”

Laws that mandate age-verification schemes for social media and other online platforms are proliferating before Congress and in statehouses around the country. But these schemes seriously threaten anonymized speech online, points out Weissmann:

With currently proposed legislation and laws, age-verification methods from facial recognition to providing one’s government ID or home address threaten to destroy the possibility of remaining anonymous online (to the degree that is currently possible). And the technology used to verify age ends up verifying more than age. Facial scanning provides a picture or video. Government IDs verify more than just the age of the person logging in, and they cannot account for the possibility that the person logging in could be a child misusing their guardian’s ID. Furthermore, if a person has to verify that their child really is their child as part of parental consent verification, then that adult’s information will be disclosed, too. …

Age-verification mandates could also implicate the rights of individuals with the concept of the “chilling effect” in court. This effect occurs when people voluntarily filter their speech due to laws and can cause courts to overturn these laws that cause the “chilling effect.”

More here.