News Release

New Child Safety Bills Nationwide


MIT Technology Review reports that dozens of bills purporting to make the internet safer for children and teenagers have been introduced in several states in the last few months. The content of child safety bills varies from state to state. Some focus on limiting data collection from users who are minors. In California, the bills focus on shifting the incentive model for data and online advertising; currently, companies can profit from minors’ online data. 

    Ryan-Mosley is a senior tech policy reporter for MIT Technology Review. 

Ryan-Mosley told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “These bills are fragmented and varied,” and it is still mostly unclear how any of these patchwork standards would be enforced from state to state. In many cases it is also still unclear how social media platforms will verify users’ ages––whether by government verification, drivers’ licenses, or some other method. 

The bills generally use “palatable political packaging” to advance new online safety norms for children and teens. Ryan-Mosley says that by using child safety language, the bills are workable and already show some potential for bipartisan agreement. In comparison, bills that focus on privacy, rather than safety, have been more controversial. 

The U.S. still lacks baseline laws to define online privacy for adults and children, making it difficult to “carve out special status for children,” Ryan-Mosley added. Legislators are thus under pressure to define what kinds of privacy protections are reasonable for the larger population. “There’s a requirement to think about risks to other people online, no matter their age.” 

“Europe is years ahead of the U.S. on this front,” Ryan-Mosley said. The European model proposes that tech companies have a “duty of care” to the children who use them. This standard is quite broad, she said. If implemented in the U.S., companies might implement significant changes in terms of how and what children can post on their platforms to avoid legal liability.