California Lawmakers Propose 2 Bills To Protect Children Online

California’s commitment to safeguarding online youth continues despite legal challenges to the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (AADCA). In response, Attorney General Rob Bonta and state lawmakers have introduced two bills for the 2024 legislative session to address children’s online safety. The proposed Children’s Data Privacy Act seeks to amend the California Consumer Privacy Act, providing enhanced coverage for minors. It prohibits businesses from collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of those under 18 without affirmative authorization and requires parental consent for users under 13. The bill also empowers the California Department of Justice to impose penalties for violations.

The second bill, the Protecting Youth from Social Media Addiction Act, focuses on moderating content and limiting enticing features on social media platforms. Despite similarities with AADCA, these bills aim to complement it if it prevails in the legal challenge. The legal battle with NetChoice over alleged First Amendment violations has led to an injunction on AADCA.

State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, lead sponsor of the new privacy bill, highlights the importance of addressing children’s privacy, citing the average collection of 72 million data points on a child by the age of 13. The proposed legislation aims to bring conformity to varying children’s privacy statutes across the U.S. California officials anticipate legal challenges, expecting opposition based on First Amendment and Section 230 grounds.

The bills’ introduction does not hinder the ongoing legal battle over AADCA. The legislative initiatives echo efforts in other states, with bills in Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Vermont incorporating elements of the AADCA framework. NetChoice, opposing the bills, argues for constitutional alternatives to avoid privacy violations and government control over families. Legal uncertainties persist, but states remain determined to advance bills addressing online safety for children.

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