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NY Governor Signs Bills To Protect Kids on Social Media

NY Governor Signs Bills To Protect Kids on Social Media

Sarah Hardacre July 10, 2024
July 10, 2024
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed two new bills aimed at protecting children on social media, making the state the first to regulate social media platform algorithms.

The SAFE For Kids Act requires social media platforms to display content chronologically by default for users under 18. Also, it prohibits sending notifications to minors between 12:00 am and 6:00 am without parental consent. The bill is the first of its kind in the US.

It also lays out the need to define clear guidelines related to age verification and parental consent methods, tasking the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) with creating such rules.

Meanwhile, the other bill, the New York Child Data Protection Act, pushes federal privacy protections further by requiring platforms to actively obtain consent before collecting and sharing personal data for users under 18.

The OAG is empowered to enforce both laws, and companies could face fines of up to $5,000 per violation.

Together, the laws are designed to protect minors’ data, as well as their psychological well-being and sleep. The US Surgeon General recently issued an advisory stating that youth who use social media for more than three hours per day are twice as likely to experience mental health issues like depression or anxiety.

While the specifics of New York’s age verification rules have yet to be created, similar bills in other states have been met with privacy concerns. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, argues that the identity documents users upload are not securely stored. The EFF noted one major age verification firm left login credentials exposed online for more than a year.

Unlike legislation in other parts of the US, such as the one signed in Florida, this law does not restrict minors’ access to social media for minors. Still, it requires that social media platforms interact differently with younger users.

New York’s social media bills come as Gov. Hochul has authorized $1 billion in spending on statewide mental health efforts.

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