California’s state legislature has passed a bill that would force digital platforms to increase standards for child safety or else be subject to fines per affected child.
The sweeping legislation is the first of its kind in the US and will force digital platforms, such as social media companies, to create and enforce guardrails to protect children and teens.
Content that could be restricted from young users if deemed harmful includes advertisements marketed to children.
The bill authorizes California’s Attorney General to seek an injunction or civil penalty against any business that violates its provisions. The bill would hold violators liable for a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 per affected child for each negligent violation or not more than $7,500 per affected child for each intentional violation.
If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the bill would come into effect on June 1, 2024, giving digital platforms time to institute child safety policies and procedures.
Some social media companies have already begun doing so; just last week, Instagram made changes to its Sensitive Content Control policy to show under-16s less content it deems “potentially sensitive”.