California lawmakers have rejected a much-anticipated bill allowing parents to sue social media platforms over their addictive features for kids has failed in the legislature.
The Social Media Platform Duty to Children Act (AB 2408) failed to pass out of committee for a full state Senate vote, reports Miami Herald.
The bill would have let local prosecutors sue social media platforms for up to $250,000 per violation for knowingly using tools that can make children addicted to their products.
“As we’ve said from the start, protecting children online is a priority but must be done responsibly and effectively,” Dylan Hoffman, executive director for California and the Southwest of TechNet was quoted as saying.
“We’re glad to see that this bill won’t move forward in its current form. If it had, companies would’ve been punished for simply having a platform that kids can access,” Hoffman said in the report that came out on Friday.
Supporters said that such rules are necessary to protect children from companies who turn a blind eye to the harm caused to their mental health by social media addiction.
The Bill applied to social networks that generate less than $100 million annually or are primarily intended for video games.
“I am extremely disappointed. The bill’s death means a handful of social media companies will be able to continue their experiment on millions of California kids, causing generational harm,” said bill author Jordan Cunningham.
The demise of the bill comes at a time when US President Joe Biden has called for new child safety protections online.
Critics of the bill argued that it would have pushed services toward privacy-threatening age verification.
“It hurts the kids by depriving them of valuable social outlets and educational resources,” according to Internet policy expert Eric Goldman.