New York Child Data Privacy and Protection Act Re-introduced: Jan 23

New York Child Data Privacy and Protection Act Re-introduced

Child Data Privacy and Protection Act would Guard Children Against Online Predators, Unethical Business Practices, and More

From the office of State Senator Andrew Gounardes.

Brooklyn, NY — New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes re-introduced the New York Child Data Privacy and Protection Act, a sweeping piece of legislation that would protect children during their time spent online by creating new privacy standards for young users, end the predatory collection and sale of their personal data, and force social media companies to implement a host of new safety features. 

“Let’s face the facts: no matter what steps we take as parents, our children are increasingly living their lives online. We need to recognize that and protect them there,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “My Child Data Privacy and Protection Act will do just that, by creating new privacy standards and enforcing their adoption by tech companies, ending the predatory collection and sale of young people’s personal data, and protect our children from digital dangers such as adults targeting illegal drug sales to minors, revenge porn attacks, and more.” 

“If you’re going to be in the business of targeting tech products at minors then there’s bare minimum safety requirements you’re going to have to meet. It’s no different than if you’re making toys or cribs or car seats. If you’re in the business of providing consumer products to children, then you can’t be designing products that are endangering their lives,” said Carrie Goldberg, founder of C.A. Goldberg PLLC, a victims’ rights law firm. “For too long, tech companies have run amuck, exploiting the idea that they’re outside regulation from law or courts. As a consequence, a few powerful tech companies have designed their products to hook young people so they can advertise to them and mine their data and behaviors. We in New York cannot let this industry endanger an entire generation of young people. This is a positive opportunity for tech platforms targeting children to put their design and engineering skills to use and innovate according to the best interests of their youngest users.”  

The legislation will:

  • Keep children safer online, and allow greater parental access to accounts

  • Requires online products to provide account access to parents of deceased child users

  • Requires the developers of online products to prioritize civil and criminal subpoenas and criminal warrants when a child user is a victim of a crime 

  • Limit how companies can take advantage of children online

  • Requires entities offering online products targeted towards child users to complete a data protection impact assessment before the product goes live

  • Bans the collection, retention, processing, and sale of children’s data unless the entity has a compelling reason to do so

  • Bans digital advertising targeted towards children 

  • Requires online products to use privacy by default settings, which offer the highest possible level of privacy to child users without any manual input required by the user 

  • Mandate accessible, clear public education on how companies collect, use children’s data

  • Requires online products to alert child users when their data is being collected

  • Requires online products to display privacy policies and terms of service in an accessible and easily understood manner

  • Requires developers of online products to create a system by which users and parents can notify them of emergent problems with the product 

  • Allow enforcement through the NYS Attorney General’s Bureau of Internet and Technology

  • Gives the Bureau discretion to ban autoplay, in-app purchases, push notifications, prompts, or other features for child users

  • Allows the Attorney General to set and collect civil penalties for noncompliance, and to have the private right of action

Recent surveys have found that children between the ages of 8-12 spend about five hours and 33 minutes in front of a screen and teens 13 to 18, spend on average eight hours and 13 minutes in front of a screen. The extensive usage of the internet leaves children vulnerable to having their data collected through their time on the internet by entities like apps, websites, and social media platforms. This data is then sold to third-party entities in which the data is used to prey upon children via digital advertisements promoting eating disorders, self-harm, pornography, other harmful material. A prominent example of the harm these practices can inflict on minors is the case of Molly Russell, an English teenager, took her own life after being targeted by online materials promoting suicide and self-harm.

Many families across New York have been impacted by the lack of widespread protections for children online. Brooklyn mother Maria found herself unable to contact Instagram for assistance or to stop the spread of nude photos of her underage daughter, after her child was a target of a vicious revenge porn campaign. And even New Yorkers who have lost their child — like Utica mother Kim Devins, whose daughter, Bianca was murdered in 2019 — are unable to access their children’s accounts without undergoing extensive and expensive legal battles. If this law had been in place when Maria’s daughter was the target of revenge porn or when Bianca was murdered, Maria would have been able to stop the spread of her child’s nude photos much faster, and Kim would automatically be able to access her deceased daughter’s accounts.

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