Sep 6, 2022 NewsSchools

California passes the Age Appropriate Design Code

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Dr. Gregory White

Bradford Institute for Health Research - Senior Research Fellow

In a recent and significant development for children’s rights online, Californian politicians have moved to pass a piece of legislation which would further enable safe use of the internet for children, and protect their digital rights. The news will be of particular interest to those following the work of the Digital Makers project, which aims to ensure digital literacy of the next generation of school leavers. The 5Rights Foundation, which champions children’s digital rights and is seeking to reimagine the digital world as a place of safety for young people, released the following statement.

The California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill – modelled on the UK legislation of the same name – passed the California Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. This is a significant endorsement of the UK’s approach to protecting children online. 

The California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill (AB 2273) requires businesses to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children in the design of any digital product or service that young people are likely to access. With over ninety votes in support and not a single vote against it, the California bill has passed all of its legislative hurdles and is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Baroness Beeban Kidron, architect of the UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code and Founder of 5Rights Foundation, said:

“The news from California is a ringing endorsement of the UK’s approach to protecting children online. It’s a triumph for everyone involved, including the UK Government, the Information Commissioner’s Office, 5Rights and the coalition of campaigners and young people who made it happen.

“With this bill, California is not only setting the standard for children who live in the tech sector’s backyard, but it also paves the way for the rest of the United States and for the world. The prominence of California in the global tech community makes this a major step forward in ensuring the Age Appropriate Design Code becomes the global gold standard for children’s safety online.”

The UK Age Appropriate Design Code, which celebrates its first anniversary on Friday 2nd September, has brought forward hundreds of changes already. If signed by the Governor, the California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill will give Californian children the same levels of protection in the digital world that UK children have already benefitted from for a year.

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