California law will require tech companies to think of children

If the bill is passed into law, businesses that develop websites or apps will have to incorporate protections to protect children in their products even if the products are designed for adults, in accordance with the bill.

The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk. Gavin Newsom whose signature is needed for the age-appropriate design Code Act to be enacted in the state the home of Silicon Valley titans such as Meta, Google, and Apple.

Office of Assembly woman Buffy Wicks said the bill – AB 2273 – was passed with an unanimous vote.

If it becomes law, companies that create websites or apps will have to incorporate protections for children into their products, even if they’re designed for adults, per the bill.

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“Businesses that develop and provide online services, products, or features that children are likely to access should consider the best interests of children when designing, developing, and providing that online service, product, or feature,” the bill stated.

“If a conflict arises between commercial interests and the best interests of children, companies should prioritize the privacy, safety, and well-being of children over commercial interests.”

The law will prohibit tech companies from profiling children, selling their data, making estimates of their age, or creating features that are negative to their wellbeing, Wicks said in a tweet.

The bill was inspired by that of the Age Appropriate Design Code passed in Britain this year, as per 5Rights Foundation, an advocacy organization for children’s rights online.

“With this bill, California is not only setting the standard for children who live in the tech sector’s backyard, but it also paves the way for the rest of the United States and for the world,” 5Rights founder Beeban Kidron stated in a statement.

Trade association NetChoice which has members including Google, Meta and TikTok demanded that the California governor to block the bill, as well as two other bills that aim to control how platforms on the internet operate.

The bill calls for social media sites to disclose publicly their policies on online hate and extremism, disinformation and harassment, in addition to important metrics and information regarding the application of these policies.

“California has been a leader in technology development, but the legislature’s actions would give innovators yet another reason to leave the Golden State to avoid overly burdensome regulation that harms families and violates the First Amendment,” said NetChoice policy counsel Jennifer Huddleston.

NetChoice claimed it is possible to implement better guidelines the state could adopt to assist parents in keeping their children secure online and promote psychological health for teens.

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