A new California law will require social media platforms to add more ‘protections’ for children

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has passed a new law that could upend the way social media platforms treat underage users. The bill, known as AB 2273, “requires online platforms to consider children’s best interests and to default to privacy and security settings that protect children’s mental and physical health and well-being,” according to a press release from Newsom’s office.

The law, which does not come into force until July 2024, aims to further limit the type of data platforms are allowed to collect from children. From the Newsom press release: “AB 2273 prohibits companies that offer online services, products or features that are accessible to children from using a child’s personally identifiable information; Collect, sell or store a child’s geolocation; default profiling of a child; and guide or encourage children to provide personal information.”

However, it is not yet clear what this will mean specifically for social media, games and other online platforms. And the bill has already drawn criticism from privacy advocates and the tech industry.

One criticism, supported by digital rights groups, is that requiring companies to identify child users could compromise the privacy of everyone, not just children. “The bill is so vague and broad that it will almost certainly lead to widespread use of invasive age verification techniques that expose children (and everyone else) to greater surveillance while claiming to protect their privacy,” Fight For the wrote Future in the charge bill. “The requirement for age verification also makes it almost impossible to use online services anonymously, threatening freedom of expression, particularly for marginalized communities, human rights defenders, whistleblowers and journalists.”

Newsom’s office said in a statement that a “working group on children’s privacy” will write a “best practice” report on implementation of the law by January 2024.

California law comes as pressure on social media companies to do more to protect the privacy and well-being of children using their platforms. Senate lawmakers have also proposed a covenant that would improve privacy for younger users, and President Joe Biden has said he supports online advertising targeted at children.

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https://www.engadget.com/california-ab-2273-children-social-media-230652145.html?src=rss A new California law will require social media platforms to add more ‘protections’ for children

Russell Falcon

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