These days, it’s in vogue to blame technology for just about every perceived problem facing society—particularly those facing children—and Virginia has been ground zero for this phenomenon. Earlier this year, Gov. Glenn Youngkin advocated amendments to SB 1515, which would have imposed strict age-verification requirements for social media users in an attempt to strengthen parental controls. While Democrats led the opposition to the amendments, Republicans should join them in protecting our freedom of speech.

The amendments ultimately failed, and frustrated by this rejection, the governor chided Senate Democrats for allegedly putting “politics before the safety of Virginians, especially our youth, online.” In doing so, the governor channeled The Simpsons character Helen Lovejoy, who is known for the phrase “[w]on’t somebody please think of the children?”

This expression and its use in politics is referred to as “Lovejoy’s Law,” and individuals invoke it to “distract you from … their position.” In this case, it’s to divert attention from the problems with Youngkin’s proposed amendments, which lawmakers were right to oppose and ought to fight if the measure returns next session.

SB 1515 passed without the governor’s amendments, and it institutes age-verification requirements for pornographic websites—a reasonable goal. The governor’s amendments, on the other hand, would have significantly expanded the measure’s scope to require those under the age of 18 to obtain parental permission to access almost any website from social media and Apple accounts to Gmail and online shopping.

Currently, most websites that try to verify users’ age utilize self-verification, where users simply enter their age when creating a profile for a website. Under the new processes, the governor proposed prospective users would need to certify their age by having parents sign a consent form or provide a credit card or government-issued ID. Such requirements raise privacy and First Amendment concerns.

The governor’s intent was to require that adolescents authenticate their age and get parental permission to use these websites. But in practice, everyone—minors, adults and even dear old grandma—would have had to confirm their age in order to establish a user profile.

Not to mention the lack of clarity around whether current website users were obligated to comply with the new standards. It’s very likely that the broad language would have forced every Virginian with an existing social media profile, Apple ID, Gmail or other account to hand over their credit card or government ID to validate their age.

While the governor’s intent was likely noble, such a model would have put Virginians’ personal information at risk—especially after a recent, strong bipartisan effort by lawmakers to protect online user data and privacy. One only has to look at recent breaches to realize the dangerousness of unnecessary data collection. Credit giant Experian, DC Health Link and even the federal government have all experienced massive security breaches.

The lesson everyone should have learned is that handing over more sensitive information creates more risk. The governor’s amendment would have jeopardized Virginians’ personal privacy, as the collection of more personal data would be necessary to confirm age and would violate the constitution at the same time.

Case law certainly implies that the proposal wouldn’t stand up to constitutional scrutiny. In fact, in a majority opinion from the court, then-Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “it does not follow that the state has the power to prevent children from hearing or saying anything without their parents’ prior consent.”

Other court cases have expressed similar opinions and also appear concerned that imposing liability for age authentication would place “an unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech.” Previous courts have additionally found requiring the use of credit cards to access websites would “unduly burden protected speech in violation of the First Amendment.” While Youngkin may have been attempting to further empower parents, his proposal raises far too many constitutional issues.

Thankfully, there are market-based alternatives for parents, such as obtaining content-filtering software that limits adolescent access to specific internet content without government-imposed barriers. To be fair, there is growing popular support for parental rights and empowerment. However, imposing age-verification requirements for websites restricts parents and their choices on the tools available to them to determine what’s best for their offspring.

Parents are overwhelmingly opposed to the requirements outlined in the bill. According to a poll conducted by The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, nearly two-thirds of parents are uncomfortable providing an ID to social media sites on behalf of their children.

The governor likes to frequently tout that he wants parents to decide what’s best for their children, which is a sound policy. Unfortunately, his amendment would have effectively inserted government into a process that can be handled by parents without such interference. Promoting policy that undermines our freedom of speech under the guise of protecting children may sit well with Helen Lovejoy, but it’s disingenuous, and a distraction from the real issue—the erosion of our civil rights. The Senate was right to reject his amendments to SB 1515 and should guard against them next year, too.