The California State Assembly recently announced plans to introduce a new data protection bill to protect the information of children online. The move mirrors the UK’s recent age-appropriate design code as part of a growing movement globally to impose strict regulations on Big Tech. The age-appropriate design code bill will require many of the largest tech companies located in California to limit the amount of data that they gather from tracking younger users within the state. The law would also restrict the targeting of underage users for advertising in the state and require the implementation of ‘age-appropriate’ content policies.
The California bill, which contains bipartisan support, comes to us as many lawmakers throughout the country voice rising concerns over the safety and privacy of children online and how they can more effectively protect children’s mental health in a digital age.
“This will be the first bill like this in the country,” California Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks stated recently. “Given the size and scope of California and you have a lot of these companies based in California. We have the potential to start a ripple effect.”
The bill was designed off the UK’s recent age-appropriate design code, with similar regulations also popping in countries such as Ireland, Australia, Canada, and more. This past summer, members of the US Congress had called on large US tech companies to adopt the UK’s code for children’s privacy, stating that Big Tech has a responsibility to guarantee that their platforms and services put the safety and security of children above all, “regardless of where they live.”
State Assemblywoman Wicks had described the UK’s code as proven, and that the code has inspired some of the biggest tech companies to develop new security policies for children. In the months before the UK code went into law, for example, YouTube had voluntarily stated that it would turn off the default auto-play on videos and activate “take a break” notifications for underage children.
Where a violation of the UK Code may result in a fine, under California’s new law the Attorney-General would be obliged to enforce the state’s rules, with possible action including litigation or fines.
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