State and federal legislators across the country are introducing well-intentioned, but flawed, legislation to protect kids from what they perceive as harm from social media. This legislation would, or does, require websites to verify the age of users in order for them to hold accounts. In the case of users under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must consent to their child using social media. But every one of these pieces of legislation—including some that have become law—have fundamental problems ranging from the functionality of age-verification technology to violations of the First Amendment inherent to the technology itself.

This series explores each of these issues in depth, giving them the care and attention they deserve. We analyze problems with the technology that purports to verify age, cybersecurity concerns surrounding identity verification, different First Amendment concerns, the ways that the government can abuse these age verification databases and more.

Part 1 – The technology to verify your age without violating your privacy does not exist

Part 2 – If platforms are required to have your government IDs and face scans, hackers and enemy governments can access them too

Part 3 – Age-verification legislation discourages data minimization, even when legislators don’t intend that

Part 4 – Age-verification methods, in their current forms, threaten our First Amendment right to anonymity

Get smart quick: Sign up for technology policy right in your inbox.