Tech winners in Utah’s 2021 legislative session: Cellphone porn filters, new rules for social media platforms and personal privacy protections

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Utahns are set to see some new protections of their personal digital data and how it is gathered, stored and shared by online companies and government agencies thanks to a handful of bills passed in the 2021 Utah legislative session.

But a pair of proposals adopted by lawmakers, one aiming to place new moderation regulations on social media companies and another that would compel makers of cellphones and tablets to install and switch on porn filtering software for all Utah sales, are likely to run into constitutional challenges and possible litigation if they earn the signature of Gov. Spencer Cox.

SB228 sponsor Sen. Michael McKell, R-Spanish Fork, describes his proposal as a “free speech bill” that would help hold operators of social media platforms responsible, and legally liable, for unfairly applying moderation rules stipulated in the terms of use agreements. These are the contracts that, though rarely read, are required of all users of free social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and others.

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