California Governor Newsom signs landmark legislation to make kids safer online – KION546

By Brian Fung, CNN

A landmark California bill aimed at promoting children’s digital wellbeing became law on Thursday, as Governor Gavin Newsom announced he had signed the legislation imposing strict requirements on websites “likely to be viewed” by children.

“We are taking aggressive action in California to protect the health and well-being of our children,” Newsom said in a statement.

The law marks a defeat for the tech giants who had spent thousands lobbying on the bill, which establishes new prohibitions on how companies can collect and use personal data, and new requirements in their approach to children.

For example, the law prohibits tracking the geolocation of children unless that data is essential to provide a website’s service, and requires websites to default to the most privacy-protecting settings available. for kids. It prohibits so-called “dark models” that use manipulative design techniques that can trick children into divulging their personal information. And this forces companies to determine the approximate age of their young users.

Companies subject to the law, known as the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, cannot sell children’s personal data and must perform a “data protection impact assessment” before offering any new service likely to be accessible to children.

According to a fact sheet On the law shared by its proponents, the legislation covers the same range of companies that must comply with California’s leading privacy law, considered the strictest in the country.

For-profit companies that earn $25 million or more annually, or buy or sell the personal information of at least 100,000 users, or derive at least half of their annual revenue from sharing or selling personal information. personal information, must comply with the new law if young people make up a significant portion of their users, according to the fact sheet.

Accountable Tech, an advocacy group that has criticized big tech platforms, called the bill’s signing a “monumental victory.”

“This new law will upend the status quo and take concrete steps to end the widespread surveillance, profiling and manipulation of children online,” said Nicole Gill, the group’s executive director. “It will also serve as a transformative model for other states and countries, so that every child is protected from Big Tech’s abuse and exploitation – not just those in California.”

Other civil society groups supporting the law include privacy organization EPIC, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Center for Digital Democracy and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

But even as the law is set to take effect in 2024, opponents, including some who have themselves criticized big tech platforms, have warned it could be impractical or even dangerous in practice.

Critics said that to comply with various legal requirements, websites will be forced to screen users by age. This could mean asking users to submit even more personal information, potentially including biometric data such as face scans, which they are currently not required to provide.

“It is radical to motivate corporations to make scanning children’s faces routine, especially in a privacy bill,” wrote Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, in a blog post Thursday.

Fight for the Future, a consumer advocacy group that has blasted Amazon, Google and other tech giants for their business practices in the past, warned on Thursday that the law risks harming young LGBTQ+ people, activists human rights, whistleblowers and journalists by making it harder to remain anonymous online.

“It is immoral and dangerous for lawmakers to continue to use children as pawns to advance poorly drafted legislation that does more harm than good,” the group said.

Others said the law’s expectation that companies predict whether children may be “likely” to access their services is a departure from existing federal protections for children’s privacy, which do not come into play. force only when a service has “real knowledge” they collect data from children.

“Few websites and apps can reasonably expect under-18s to EVER use their services,” longtime tech journalist Mike Masnick wrote in a post. June blog post.

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