California 1st with a law protecting children’s online privacy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California will be the first state to require online businesses to prioritize child safety by prohibiting them from profiling children or using personal information in ways that could physically or mentally harm children, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

“We are taking aggressive action in California to protect the health and well-being of our children,” Newsom said in a statement announcing he had signed the bill. He noted that as a father of four, “I know the real issues our children face online.”

The bill requires technology companies that provide child-friendly online services to follow age-appropriate design code principles aimed at keeping children safe. Companies may have to submit a “data protection impact assessment” to the state attorney general before offering new services, products or online features that appeal to children.

Facebook parent company Meta said it was concerned about some provisions of the law, but shared lawmakers’ goal of keeping children safe online.

“We believe young people should have consistent protections across all the apps and online services they use, which is why we support clear industry standards in this area,” the social media giant said. He called the law “an important development towards setting those standards.”

The bill is modeled on a similar measure in the UK. In the year since the law took effect, some of America’s most valuable tech companies “began to redesign their products in the best interests of children,” said Buffy Wicks, a member of the Democratic Assembly, co-author of the law.

“Now we can make sure they do the same for young people in California – and hopefully young people across the country,” Wicks said.

The law faced opposition from a coalition including the Entertainment Software Association who said it included “a standard that was too inclusive and would capture many more websites and platforms than necessary”.

This is the second groundbreaking online protections bill to be signed by Newsom this week. The earlier measure requires social media companies to provide details on how and when they remove disturbing content, including hate speech.

But a third proposal failed to pass the state legislature this year. He reportedly banned social media companies from adopting features she knows can make children addicted.

Still, Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that advocates for children, said the bill Newsom signed into law on Thursday is “a necessary and positive step forward in standing up to Big Tech.” .

The challenge to protect children online resonated personally with Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and Wicks, who are both mothers of young children.

“I am terrified of the effects of technology addiction and saturation on our children and their mental health,” Siebel Newsom said in supporting the bill, although she acknowledged that “social media and the internet are integral to how we as a global community connect and communicate.”

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