Historic bill aimed at keeping California children digitally safe approved | Technology

California lawmakers passed first-of-its-kind legislation on Monday designed to improve the online safety and privacy protections for children.

The bill, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, will require firms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube to install guardrails for users under the age of 18, including defaulting to higher privacy settings for minors and refraining from collecting location data for those users.

It also requires companies to analyze their algorithms and products to determine how they may affect young users, assessing whether it is designed to be addictive or cause additional harm to children.

Children’s safety advocates have applauded the bill, which passed in a vote of 33 to 0, saying similar federal legislation is needed to protect young users. The bill is “a huge step forward toward creating the internet that children and families deserve”, said Josh Golin, executive director at advocacy group Fairplay.

“For far too long, tech companies have treated their egregious privacy and safety issues as a PR problem to be addressed only through vague promises, obfuscations, and delays,” he said. “Now, tech platforms will be required to prioritize young Californians’ interests and wellbeing ahead of reckless growth and shareholder dividends.”

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