Right to Anonymous Speech, Part 3: Anonymous Speech and Age-Verification Laws
An issue that came up during a terrific panel that I participated in last Thursday—organized by the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project—was whether age-verification laws for social-media use infringed on a First Amendment right of either adults or minors to receive speech anonymously.
My co-panelist Clare Morell of the Ethics and Public Policy Center put together an excellent tweet thread summarizing some of her thoughts, including on the anonymous-speech angle. Another co-panelist—Shoshana Weissmann of the R Street Institute—also has a terrific series of blog posts on this particular issue.
Continuing this ongoing Truth on the Market series on anonymous speech, I wanted to respond to some of these ideas, and to argue that the primary First Amendment and public-policy concerns with age-verification laws really aren’t about anonymous speech. Instead, they are about whether such laws place the burden of avoiding harms on the least-cost avoider. Or, in the language of First Amendment jurisprudence, whether they are the least restrictive means to achieve a particular policy end.