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NY Moving on Child Social Media and Data Protection Bills

Last week’s hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee triggered headlines regarding Big Tech and the dangers of children using social media platforms. The bipartisan rebuke of Big Tech by a number of U.S. Senators marked a dramatic shift in the politics of this issue. The “apology” by Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg grabbed headlines across the globe.


While Washington continues to debate these issues, New York is moving forward with legislation. Embedded in Governor Kathy Hochu’s budget were two policy bills that deal directly with children and social media platforms. The two bills are:


Bill #1 : Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act: The SAFE for Kids Act will require social media companies to restrict the addictive features on their platforms that most harm young users. Currently, platforms supplement the content that users view from the accounts they follow by serving them content from accounts they do not follow or subscribe to.


Bill #2 : The New York Child Data Protection Act: With few privacy protections in place for minors online, children are vulnerable to having their location and other personal data tracked and shared with third parties. To protect children’s privacy, the New York Child Data Protection Act will prohibit all online sites from collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of anyone under the age of 18 unless they receive informed consent or unless doing so is strictly necessary for the purpose of the website. For users under 13, this informed consent must come from a parent. The bill authorizes OAG to enforce the law and may enjoin and seek damages or civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.


We obviously support protecting children from harm caused by social media platforms.  Stations have a unique and special obligation to children in the audience.  For example, broadcasters have successfully followed all FCC regulations pertaining to children’s television and advertising during children’s programs.


We are examining these new bills closely to make sure there is no inadvertent and unforeseen impact on broadcasters.  Because these bills were included in the NY State Budget, we expect to see the legislation move quickly. The Senate and Assembly will offer their budget version in the next few weeks. As a general matter, the NY State budget is voted on in early April.


You can see a summary of the bills in Governor Hochul’s press statement here.


You can see the exact language of the proposals here.


You can find the Senate Judiciary hearing and testimony here.



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