New York signs laws to protect kids on social media, but faces criticism

The New York Governor signed two new bills into law on Thursday (June 20) to protect children and teenagers from the harmful side of social media.

The Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act is one of the bills that will come into force and this will stop social media platforms from “providing an addictive feed” to children younger than 18 without parental consent.

The purpose is to “protect the mental health of children” and prevent disrupted sleep due to night-time use of social media.

The other is the New York Child Data Protection Act which limits data collection from minors without consent and restricts the sale of the information.

While states across the US are making moves to enact legislation to protect children in the rise of social media, the federal government is lagging behind.

Some proposals have been introduced like the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) but federal legislators need more floor votes before they can focus on these measures properly.

Ahead of the signing, New York Governor Kathy Hochul was reported as saying: “Anybody going to hold their breath waiting for a federal solution? Me neither.”

Bills to protect children and teenagers online face backlash

While many will be happy with the measures taken, the bills saw almost immediate responses of negativity.

NetChoice, an industry association that ‘works to make the Internet safe for free enterprise and free expression,’ published a news release condemning Hochul’s laws.

“This is an assault on free speech and the open internet by the State of New York,” said NetChoice’s Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo.

“New York has created a way for the government to track what sites people visit and their online activity by forcing websites to censor all content unless visitors provide an ID to verify their age.”

A technology industry coalition called the Chamber of Progress said the SAFE for Kids Act raises concerns as it “would restrict teen access to valuable online resources and safe, inclusive community spaces.”

Featured Image: By Flickr

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Sophie Atkinson