Gov. Newsom Receives Child Internet Privacy Bill

Lawmakers in California are expected to approve a bill that would force tech firms to provide the maximum level of privacy possible and limit data collection from minors. 

On Monday, the California State Senate voted 33-0 to approve the California Age Appropriate Design Code, months after the California State Assembly approved a similar bill in May. 

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California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has not expressed a viewpoint on the plan, may soon be asked to sign it into law.

The bill would impose some of the most restrictive safeguards for children’s online privacy in the United States. 

Alleged Benefits 

The bill’s co-sponsor, California State Assembly Democrat Buffy Wicks, told the New York Times that the internet ecosystem is not safe for children. 

They believe by forcing these corporations to protect children better, the Kids’ Code will make technology safer for kids. 

Wicks and Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham drafted the bill with input from the Five Rights Foundation in the United Kingdom. 

For months, lobbyists for the technology sector and lawmakers have been trying to get the measure amended to reflect current industry standards. 

Companies are obligated under the current iteration of the Design Code to place a premium on the protection of children when designing products. 

Apps will be required to have their most stringent privacy settings on by default for children and be limited in their capacity to gather data on users under 18. 

In order to further protect the privacy of users aged 13 and under, this law adds additional regulations to the existing Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. 

In 2024, the regulations will become fully operational. It’s unclear if computer firms across the United States will adjust their procedures to comply with the design code or if they’ll keep it regionally restricted. 

In 2021, the United Kingdom enacted the Age-Appropriate Design Code, which imposes similar privacy limits on children and young adults as the Design Code does in the United States.

 

In a statement, Accountable Tech’s executive director, Nicole Gill, hailed California’s action as a huge step forward in ensuring a future where the internet is essentially created with the mutual benefit of young people in mind. 


He claimed the California Age-Appropriate Design Code would ensure Big Tech platforms give children and teenagers’ safety, well-being, and confidentiality top priority, while also ending the widespread tracking, targeting, and manipulation they encounter online. 

IT Advocacy Groups

Since they prefer a federal approach, several IT advocacy groups are reluctant to endorse the proposal publicly. 

Technet’s California executive director, Dylan Hoffman, told Axios this is yet another reason why a federal privacy law is needed to include universal standards to protect children online, rather than the current system of varying, confusing, and different state laws. 

Others have voiced concern about the code’s potential to erect excessive obstacles, such as requiring age identification via “estimating the age of minor users.” 

The Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which would reform several data gathering methods, to the floor for a vote in July.

This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.

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