It is quite rare for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms to agree with the political positions taken by Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York Attorney General Letitia James. On occasion, however, Gov. Hochul and Attorney General James land on the right side of an issue.
On October 11, 2023, Gov. Hochul and Attorney General James announced their support for two new bills that would limit young people’s access to social media. These bills are known as the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act (S.7694-Gounardes/A.8148-Rozic) and the New York Child Data Protection Act (S.3281-Gounardes/A.4967-Rozic). The purpose of the bills is to improve teenagers’ mental health by protecting them from social media features that are designed to be addictive.
According to State of Politics, the SAFE for Kids Act would empower parents to opt their children out of receiving social media feeds curated by algorithms, which are automated systems used by social media companies to suggest content to users. The SAFE for Kids Act would also allow users to limit the number of hours young people spend on social media and to block access to social media platforms between midnight and 6:00 a.m.
The New York Child Data Protection Act would reportedly bar websites from “collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of anyone under 18 years old, unless they receive informed consent or it’s otherwise necessary.”
Attorney General James commented, “‘Young New Yorkers are struggling with record levels of anxiety and depression, and social media companies that use addictive features to keep minors on their platforms longer are largely to blame. This legislation will help tackle the risks of social media affecting our children and protect their privacy.’”
Violations of either law could be punished with fines of up to $5,000.
While similar laws have passed in other states, websites and social media platforms have taken the position that such laws give rise to free speech concerns.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms applauds the introduction of the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act.