Tech Giants Rally Against NY Online Child Safety Legislation

The battle over online child safety has escalated as tech behemoths Google and Meta, alongside other major players in the industry, mobilize against proposed New York legislation aimed at curbing social media addiction among minors.

At the heart of the controversy are two bills: the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act. The SAFE for Kids Act seeks to limit the use of addictive features by social media platforms, requiring parental consent for their deployment and restricting push notifications to minors during specific hours. Meanwhile, the Child Data Protection Act aims to safeguard minors’ personal data from exploitation.

Reports indicate that Big Tech firms, bolstered by advocacy groups and other corporate interests, have collectively invested substantial resources, surpassing $823,235, to lobby against the proposed legislation. The looming expenditure is expected to breach the $1 million mark, underscoring the significant opposition faced by the bills.

Tech companies have voiced concerns that the proposed legislation could encroach upon freedom of speech, compromise online privacy for teenagers, and hinder efforts to combat hate speech through algorithmic tools. Additionally, there are apprehensions that the bills could result in disparate online experiences for teenagers and their parents due to varying state-level regulations.

Despite mounting opposition, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D), a key proponent of the legislation, remains optimistic about securing bipartisan support in the Senate. He acknowledged the formidable challenge posed by well-funded lobbying efforts but emphasized the importance of prioritizing children’s safety in the digital realm.

In response, Meta stressed the need for comprehensive legislation that empowers parents and supports teenagers online, cautioning against hastily implemented measures that could have unintended consequences.

As the debate unfolds, the fate of the proposed legislation hangs in the balance, with stakeholders on both sides fiercely advocating for their interests in shaping the future of online child safety regulation.