California Offers Bipartisan Road Map for Protecting Kids Online Even as Big Tech Fights Back

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Health

In California, a Democrat and a Republican figured out how to pass the country’s toughest online privacy law protecting kids. If their experience is any indication, though, federal legislators can expect fierce pushback from Big Tech if they heed President Joe Biden’s call for similar action on a national scale.

The law, modeled after legislation in the United Kingdom, will ban websites from profiling users in California under age 18, tracking their locations, or nudging them to provide personal information. It will also require online services to automatically put privacy settings at their highest levels on sites that kids access when the law goes into effect next year.

Passed with unanimous bipartisan support, the measure presents a road map for federal lawmakers to stop social media companies from targeting kids. But the tech industry’s response, including a recent lawsuit that describes the law as having global ramifications, demonstrates how hard its powerful lobby will work to undermine or dilute regulation.

“Big Tech isn’t afraid to throw its weight around, that’s for sure,” said Jordan Cunningham, a Republican former California Assembly member who co-authored the bill. “That’s true in D.C. and Sacramento alike.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom last year signed the law, which imposes strict guardrails on online services that children use. Its greatest reach, some privacy experts believe, lies in the requirement that online services must consider what’s best …

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