SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – California will be the first state to require online companies to put children’s safety first by preventing them from profiling children or using personal information in ways that could harm children physically or mentally, has 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 it had signed the bill. He noted that as a father of four, “I am familiar with the real problems our children are experiencing online.”
The bill requires technology companies that provide attractive online services for children to follow age-appropriate design code principles aimed at protecting children. Businesses will eventually have to submit a “data protection impact assessment” to the state attorney general before offering new services, products or online features that are attractive to children.
Facebook’s parent company Meta said it was concerned about some legal provisions, but shares the lawmakers’ goal of keeping children safe online.
“We believe young people should have consistent protections across all apps and online services they use, which is why we support clear industry standards in this area,” said the social media giant. He called the law “an important development towards the definition of these standards”.
The bill is modeled on a similar measure in the UK. In the year after the law went into effect, some of the major technology companies in the United States “began redesigning their products in the interest of children,” said Buffy Wicks, Democratic Assembly member, 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 was opposed by a coalition that included the Entertainment Software Association which said it includes “an overly inclusive standard and would capture far more websites and platforms than necessary.”
It is the second revolutionary bill on online protections signed by Newsom this week. The previous measure requires social media companies to provide details on how and when they remove disturbing content, including hate speech.
But this year a third proposal was not approved by the state legislature. It would have banned social media companies from adopting features that it knows can cause children’s addiction.
However, Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit advocating for children, said the bill signed by Newsom on Thursday was “a necessary and positive step towards opposing Big Tech.”
The challenge of protecting children online personally resonated with Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and Wicks, who are both mothers of young children.
“I am terrified of the effects that technology addiction and saturation are having on our children and their mental health,” said Siebel Newsom in support of the bill, although she acknowledged that “social media and the Internet are an integral part. how we as a global community connect and communicate ”.