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Minors in Louisiana to need parental consent for social media accounts

Child using smartphone

Louisiana lawmakers have approved a bill mandating minors obtain parental consent before creating online accounts, including on social media platforms and multiplayer games. 

The measure also allows parents or guardians to delete their child’s existing accounts on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and more starting August 1, 2024. 

To become law, the bill must be signed by Governor John Bel Edwards. 

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If enacted, Louisiana will join Utah and Arkansas as states restricting minors’ access to social media and online applications.

Governor Edwards, a Democrat, has not yet commented on the bill. 

Its sponsor, Republican state legislator Laurie Schlegel said it resembles an existing law prohibiting minors from entering into contracts with brick-and-mortar businesses. 

Schlegel emphasized that any online contract involving an unemancipated minor without parental consent would be considered null and void.

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Utah recently passed a law requiring social-media companies to verify that new users are at least 18 years old or have parental consent. 

Effective March 1, 2024, the law grants parents full access to their child’s account.

Arkansas passed a similar law in April, scheduled to go into effect in September.

Other states, including California, are actively developing regulations to safeguard children and adolescents from the potential harms of unregulated online activity.

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Social media companies have raised concerns about age verification laws, citing privacy issues for users needing to disclose sensitive information for verification purposes. 

Many platforms already have policies prohibiting children under 13 from accessing their services. 

Additionally, most companies implement stronger ad-tracking safeguards and content restrictions for users under 18.

Last month, the US surgeon general warned about the risks posed by social media to young people. 

The surgeon general called on policymakers and technology companies to enhance standards for adolescents’ online experiences.

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Qantas Airlines relaxes gender-based uniform rules

Qantas Airlines

Australian airline Qantas has implemented new style guidelines that break away from gender-based uniform rules.

The revised policy allows male employees to wear makeup and have long hair, while female employees will no longer be required to wear makeup and heels during their shifts.

Last year, an Australian trade union urged Qantas to modernize its uniform policy, aligning it with the values of the 21st century.

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Following suit with other airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic, which has adopted gender-neutral uniforms, Qantas has embraced more inclusive guidelines.

The updated rules permit both male and female employees to wear flat shoes and choose from a wider range of jewelry, including large watches.

Additionally, pilots and flight attendants, along with all other staff members, are now allowed to have long hair as long as it is styled in a ponytail or bun.

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Qantas expressed its commitment to adapting to changing fashion trends and promoting diversity. The airline stated, “We’re proud of our diversity as well as bringing our guidelines up to date.”

The new uniform regulations extend to employees of Jetstar, Qantas’ budget airline. Imogen Sturni, the representative of the Australian Services Union (ASU), which advocated for the uniform policy change, described it as a significant victory for workers.

Ms. Sturni stated certain dress code requirements were previously deemed unnecessary, such as strict makeup guidelines and the demand for women to wear smaller watches than men.

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However, despite the relaxed rules, Qantas employees are still expected to cover their tattoos, and the guidelines specify which uniform items must be worn together, including the requirement for tights or stockings with skirts.

Qantas’ announcement follows similar moves by other airlines.

Virgin Atlantic, a UK-based carrier, adopted a “fluid approach” to uniforms, allowing staff to choose their attire regardless of gender.

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However, the policy was not applied to crew members on board the England football team’s flight to the World Cup in Qatar, which faced criticism for its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community.

Virgin said the measure had been introduced in the UK, US, and Israel, where non-binary identities are more widely accepted, fostering greater self-expression.

In 2019, Air New Zealand lifted its ban on visible tattoos, enabling employees to express their individuality and cultural heritage.

This change recognized the significance of tattoos for some New Zealanders with Maori ancestry, who use them to honor their genealogy and heritage.

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Pets at Home appoints former Asda executive as operations director

Pets at Home

Pets at Home has announced the appointment of Steve Shirley, a former executive at Asda, as its new Operations Director for retail.

This addition completes the company’s senior retail leadership team.

Having spent 30 years at Asda, Shirley most recently served as the Vice President for Wholesale and Convenience.

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In his new role, he will be responsible for overseeing all 457 Pets at Home stores as the company continues to expand its presence across the UK.

Shirley said: “I’m very excited to be joining Pets – not many businesses can provide such a rich offer – combining health, grooming and retail all under one brand.

“I was also very struck by the collaborative culture that seems to be such a key component of Pets at Home’s continuing success story. I can’t wait to get started and meet as many of my new colleagues as possible.”

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The company’s chief operating officer retail Lisa Miao said: “It is great to welcome Steve to the team. He is a very experienced, results-driven and respected retailer and has developed a wealth of experience across end-to-end retail operations, including establishing a broad range of store formats.”

Shirley’s appointment follows the recent addition of Kathryn Imrie, formerly of Sky Deutschland, to the newly-created position of Chief Consumer Officer in February.

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