California Internet Privacy Rules for Kids, Explained

The California legislature is poised to pass new internet privacy rules for kids. What does the proposed bill entail? Here's everything we know.

Rachel Curry - Author

Aug. 29 2022, Published 3:14 p.m. ET

The California legislature is poised to pass new internet privacy rules for kids, though the bill isn't without pushback.

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What does the proposed bill, AB2273, entail for kids and families in an age of online school, learning, and entertainment? Keep reading for all of the details.

California is poised to pass new internet privacy rules for kids.

In California, the proposed bill AB2273 addresses online privacy for minors. Dubbed the California Age Appropriate Design Code, it's expected to pass the state’s Senate and Assembly before heading to the desk of Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom.

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Newsom hasn't commented yet on where he stands with the bill. In April, California Assembly member and bill-cosponsor Buffy Wicks said, “Like so many parents, I grapple with how challenging it is to shield our kids from the harmful content and experiences they’ll encounter online.”

According to the movement’s website, AB2273 aims to stop companies from selling personal data from minors, profiling children through their data, designing features that harm kids, tracking the location of minors, manipulating children to secure personal information, and more. Companies would be required to oblige by a number of practices (and avoid others) that could cause any of these issues.

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Will California’s privacy bill for kids have unintended consequences?

California isn't a stranger to bills with unintended consequences. Just look at AB5, a bill poised as a way to protect workers. It ultimately harmed the state’s gig economy and required numerous revisions to allow contract workers to work how they wanted.

For AB2273, it’s a different story, but one that’s important to look at under a similar lens. TechNet executive director of California, Dylan Hoffman, told reporters, “It's another example of why we need a federal privacy law that includes universal standards to protect kids online instead of a patchwork of state laws that creates confusion and compliance complications for businesses.”

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Does that mean a federal privacy bill for children is en route? Maybe. Right now, the U.S. is equipped with a bill that protects the digital privacy of children 13 and under, but teens are left in limbo. Plus, that bill only targets companies specifically designed and doesn't hold other companies accountable for their role in children’s online behavior.

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Until there's a federal solution, California’s proposed bill could mark a standard for new outlines moving forward. However, it could also spark ripple effects that trouble the internet for years.

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These are the next steps for internet privacy rules for kids in California.

AB2273 must pass the state’s Senate and Assembly before heading to Newsom's desk.

Because of the child data privacy bill’s expensive non-compliance fees, it will likely receive pushback from Silicon Valley tech companies.

Head of U.S. Affairs for 5Rights Foundation (which sponsors AB2273) Nichole Rocha said about the bill, “We’ve been working with stakeholders including industry representatives throughout the legislative process and have made every effort to address their practical concerns without watering down the protections the bill would provide to youth.”


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