CA Governor Gavin Newsom signs the Children’s Social Media Privacy Act

Seen on a device screen in Sausalito, California, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces his new name, Meta, during a virtual event on Thursday, October 28, 2021. Zuckerberg spoke about his latest passion - creating virtual reality

Seen on a device screen in Sausalito, Calif., Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces his new name, Meta, during a virtual event on Thursday, October 28, 2021. Zuckerberg spoke about his latest passion – creating a virtual “metaverse” for business, entertainment, and interactions. purposeful social. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

AP

Social media companies will soon be required to design their products with the best interests of child users in mind Assembly Bill 2273signed by Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday.

The bill — which was co-authored by Assemblywoman Buffy Weeks, a Democrat, and Assemblywoman Jordan Cunningham, Republican — would ban social media companies from using children’s personal information. It is also prohibited to collect, sell or retain the geolocation of children and lead or encourage children to provide personal information.

AB 2273 requires easy access to privacy information, terms of service, policies, and community standards. It also calls for responsive tools that children can use to exercise their privacy rights.

Violators will be liable for a civil penalty of up to $2,500 per child affected for each negligent violation or up to $7,500 per intentional crime.

The law will enter into force on July 1, 2024.

“We are taking drastic measures in California to protect the health and well-being of our children,” Newsom said in a statement. “As a father of four, I am aware of the real issues our children face online, and I am grateful to members of Weeks and Cunningham and the technology industry for pushing this protection and putting the well-being of our children first.”

Newsom’s wife, first partner Jennifer Seibel Newsom, also issued a statement saying she is horrified by the effects of technology addiction, saturation, and the damage to children’s mental health.

“While social media and the internet are integral to the way we as a global community communicate and communicate, our children still deserve real safeguards like AB 2273 to protect their well-being as they grow and develop,” Sibel Newsom said.

AB 2273 was intended to be a companion statute to Assembly Bill 2408, also from Cunningham and Weeks, would have given prosecutors the power to sue social media companies for addicting children to their platforms. The bill was targeted for defeat by the social media industry, including Meta (which oversees Facebook and Instagram).

Lobbyists were successful and the bill Died a quiet death In the file to suspend the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“I am overwhelmed by my disappointment with AB 2408 by seeing AB 2273 heading to the Governor’s office. This is the most important step any country has taken to ensure children’s safety on the Internet – by far!” Cunningham Tweet on Thursday.

In a statement, Weeks said California is leading the way nationally on this issue, but there is still work to be done to protect children from the harmful effects of social media.

“In particular, we know that some Big Tech social media companies design their products for addicted children, and that a significant number of these children suffer serious harms as a result… such as depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and eating disorders,” Weeks said. It’s not just common sense, it’s going to save lives.”

For its part, the tech industry is unhappy with the bill signing into law.

NetChoice, a coalition group of Big Tech companies whose members include Meta, TikTok, Google and Twitter, described the law as well-intentioned but rife with unintended consequences.

“The law violates the First Amendment by chilling constitutionally protected speech and by violating the editorial rights of websites, platforms and apps of all sizes and ideologies,” NetChoice attorney Chris Marshes said in a statement.

Newsom has also been criticized for signing the bill by Fighting for the Future, a digital rights group.

“AB 2273 in California will make children less, not more, safer, online. The bill specifically harms LGBTQ+ youth and other vulnerable youth for whom the online community can be a lifeline,” group spokeswoman Evan Greer said in a statement. The law is written so vaguely and broadly that it will almost certainly lead to widespread use of invasive age-verification techniques that subject children (and anyone else) to more surveillance while claiming to protect their privacy.”

An unnamed Meta spokesperson said in a statement that the company had concerns about some provisions of the law, but that “the California Age-Appropriate Design Act is an important development toward establishing these standards.”

This story was originally published September 15, 2022 1:20 pm.

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Andrew Sheeler covers the unique political climate in California for The Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from the interior of Alaska to the North Dakota oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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