States Enacting Internet Safety Laws To Protect Children: Tech Pushes Back

State legislators are working with children's safety advocates to renew campaigns for online child safety bills in several states after a federal judge blocked California's landmark legislation.

In 2021, California passed the California Age-Appropriate Design Code, which "requires digital services to 'prioritize' the well-being of children when developing products and vet those tools for potential risks before rolling them out."

However, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law in September 2023, saying it likely does "not pass constitutional muster." The case, which is pending, may determine the fate of bills in other states requiring digital safeguards for children.

Unrelated state laws requiring online platforms to check users' ages and obtain parental consent also face legal challenges.

Still, legislators and advocates are continuing to work to pass state laws modeled on the United Kingdom's digital safeguards for children.

The head of U.S. affairs for the 5Rights Foundation said these bills require a "complete paradigm shift." Rather than the internet being designed for adults, it would be "designed in a safe manner where children and teens can be online and freely access content and services without looming risks of harm."

The tech industry argues that these laws would "expand data collection and impose ambiguous restrictions on businesses."

NetChoice, the tech trade association that filed the lawsuit in California, claimed the law violates the First Amendment. Christiano Lima "States looking to 2024 to pass revised kid's online safety bills" (Jan. 02, 2024).




With potential changes on the horizon, safe adults should closely monitor online child safety laws in their state in order to make sure children only use websites that comply with the law.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCLS) notes that 35 states and Puerto Rico considered legislation in 2023 to address children's social media use.

Twelve states enacted bills or adopted resolutions; for example, the Social Media Safety Act in Arkansas; the Secure Online Child Interaction and Age Limitation Act in Louisiana; the Utah Social Media Regulation Act; and the banning of TikTok in Montana.

Safe adults can check child social media safety legislation in their state on NCLS's website. "Social Media and Children 2023 Legislation" (Jan. 26, 2024).

If you witness content on an online platform that may be unsafe for children, report it by contacting the platform. If you believe a website is requesting too much information or presenting content in a way that is unhealthy for children, do not use that platform in your organization.


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