New York Passes Online Age Verification Digital ID Law

New York Passes Online Age Verification Digital ID Law

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Lawmakers in New York have passed the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the Child Data Protection Act.

Assembly Bill A8148A and Senate Bill S7694A (that became the SAFE Act) were introduced as aiming to prevent social platforms from showing minors “addictive” (i.e., algorithmically manipulated) feeds, among a host of other provisions.

Parental consent is now required for children to have access to the latter versions of the feeds – which in turn means that the controversial age verification for adults must be introduced into the mix.

The new rules will not prohibit children from searching for particular keywords but social platforms will not be able to send notifications to their phones “regarding addictive feeds” from midnight to 6 am – again, this will be possible, but only with parental consent.

Could this be the true impetus behind the two bills – to usher in age verification and digital ID, some skeptics might wonder.

Regardless, Governor Kathy Hochul was in a celebratory mood late last week announcing the outcome that she pushed for, with the backing of some parent and student organizations. The Democrat is expected to sign the bills shortly.

The SAFE and Child Data Protection Acts are touted as proof that legislators in New York are not beholden to Big Tech – and the bills and their passage are being described as “historic and transformative,” likely because this is the first set of their kind in a US state.

How the laws get enforced and what positive, or negative (given the age verification factor) consequences they will have, will become evident in time. Meanwhile, heads of various legislative bodies, the state Attorney-General, and assembly members are congratulating each other and talking up the new legislation.

Age – and how to determine it (that is, uncontroversially, while protecting people’s right to privacy and anonymity) – crops up again with The New York Child Data Protection Act, which says data belonging to anyone under 18 cannot be collected, used, shared or sold – “unless they receive informed consent or unless doing so is strictly necessary for the purpose of the website.”

There’s room to breathe here for Big Tech, but their trade groups are still framing all this as a First Amendment violation issue.

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