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AB-1545 Children: internet safety: platform operator: prohibited acts.(2021-2022)



Current Version: 02/19/21 - Introduced Compare Versions information image


AB1545:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1545


Introduced by Assembly Member Wicks

February 19, 2021


An act to add Title 1.81.7 (commencing with Section 1798.300) to Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code, relating to business.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1545, as introduced, Wicks. Children: internet safety: platform operator: prohibited acts.
Existing law, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, (CCPA) grants consumers certain rights in regard to businesses, as defined, that collect personal information about them, including the right to know what information is collected and the right to opt-out of the sale of that information. Existing law, the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020, approved by the voters as Proposition 24 at the November 3, 2020, statewide general election, among other changes in the CCPA, establishes the California Privacy Protection Agency and vests it with full administrative power, authority, and jurisdiction to implement and enforce the CCPA. Existing law prohibits specified unfair, dishonest, deceptive, destructive, fraudulent, and discriminatory practices by which fair and honest competition is destroyed or prevented.
Existing law prohibits a business from selling personal information of consumers that the business knows are less than 16 years of age unless that sale is affirmatively authorized, as specified. Existing law, commencing January 1, 2023, also prohibits a business from sharing personal information of consumers that the business knows are less than 16 years of age unless that sale is affirmatively authorized, as specified.
This bill would enact the Kids Internet Design and Safety Act for purposes of keeping children safe and protecting their interests on the internet. The bill would prohibit an operator of a platform directed to children, as defined, from incorporating certain features on any of its platforms, including, but not limited to, an auto-play setting that, without input from a covered user, as defined, commences additional video content directly following the video content initially selected by the user.
This bill would prohibit an operator of a platform directed to children, or a platform for which the operator has constructive knowledge that covered users use the platform, from engaging in certain activities, including amplifying, promoting, or encouraging covered users’ consumption of videos or other forms of content that involve sexual material or other dangerous, abusive, exploitative, or wholly commercial content. The bill would also prohibit an operator of a platform directed to children from engaging in certain activities, including directing content that includes host-selling, as defined, to covered users. The bill would provide that a violation of these provisions constitutes unfair competition.
This bill would, for age verification purposes, require an operator of a platform to use only age verification information collected from covered users. The bill would require the Attorney General to adopt, by January 1, 2026, specified regulations relating to this bill, including an annual audit process for purposes of evaluating the level of compliance with these provisions. The bill would require the annual audit to be conducted for 25 platforms that are directed to children and that have the highest total number of covered users in the past calendar year. The bill would require the first annual audit to be completed by January 1, 2027. The bill would make related findings and declarations.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Title 1.81.7 (commencing with Section 1798.300) is added to Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code, to read:

TITLE 1.81.7. Kids Internet Design and Safety Act

1798.300.
 (a) This title shall be known, and may be cited, as the Kids Internet Design and Safety Act, or the KIDS Act.
(b) The purpose of this title is to keep children safe and protect their interests on the internet.

1798.301.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Children increasingly consume digital entertainment on the internet and are uniquely susceptible to manipulation online, given their lack of important neurological and psychological mechanisms that develop later in adulthood.
(b) Today’s digital media environment, which is constantly evolving and now includes high-tech experiences, including augmented reality and virtual reality, is largely designed in a nontransparent manner to ensure children interact with content that reflect the interests and goals of content creators, platforms, and marketers.
(c) Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other complex systems are used to make continuous decisions about how online content for children can be personalized to increase engagement.
(d) Online companies gather, analyze, and use data for behavioral marketing directed at children.
(e) Companies employ sophisticated strategies, including neuromarketing, to affect consumer behavior and manipulate decisionmaking.
(f) Branded content in various forms of multimedia, including native advertising and influencer marketing, exposes children to marketing that is inherently manipulative or purposely disguised as entertainment or other information.

1798.302.
 For purposes of this title, all of the following definitions apply:
(a) “Branded content” means commercial content created for, and distributed on, a platform in a manner that causes the difference between entertainment and advertising to become unclear for purposes of generating a positive view of the brand.
(b) “Covered user” means a natural person under 16 years of age who is a California resident, as defined in Section 17014 of Title 18 of the California Code of Regulations, as that section read on January 1, 2021.
(c) “Directed to children” means the targeting of a covered user by a platform. Targeting is determined by examining all the following factors with respect to a platform:
(1) The platform’s subject matter.
(2) The platform’s visual content.
(3) Whether the platform uses animated characters or activities for covered users, as well as related incentives.
(4) The type of music or audio content used by the platform.
(5) The age of any models used.
(6) The use of celebrities under 16 years of age or celebrities who appeal to covered users.
(7) The language used by the platform.
(8) The type of advertising content used, or used to advertise, on the platform.
(9) Reliable empirical evidence relating to the composition of the platform’s users and the intended audience of the platform.
(d) “Host-selling” means commercial video content that features the same characters or individuals used in adjacent noncommercial content.
(e) “Native advertising” means a form of media paid for by the advertiser, where the advertising experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.
(f) “Operator” means any person that operates a platform, including any person offering products or services for sale through that platform, involving commerce within the State of California.
(g) “Person” means any individual, partnership, corporation, trust, estate, cooperative, association, or other entity.
(h) “Platform” means an internet website, online service, online application, or mobile application that is operated for commercial purposes.

1798.303.
 (a) An operator of a platform directed to children shall not incorporate any of the following features on any of its platforms:
(1) An auto-play setting that, without input from the covered user, commences additional video content directly following the video content initially selected by the user.
(2) Push alerts that urge a covered user to spend more time engaged with the platform when the covered user is not actively using it.
(3) A display of the quantity of positive engagement or feedback that a covered user has received from other users.
(4) Any design feature or setting that disproportionately encourages a covered user, due to their age or inexperience, to make purchases, submit content, or spend more time engaging with the platform.
(5) Any feature that provides a covered user with badges or other visual award symbols based on elevated levels of engagement with the platform.
(b) An operator of a platform directed to children, or a platform for which the operator has constructive knowledge that covered users use the platform, shall not do either of the following:
(1) Amplify, promote, or encourage covered users’ consumption of videos or other forms of content that involve any of the following:
(A) Sexual material.
(B) Physical or emotional violence, including bullying.
(C) Adult activities, including gambling.
(D) Other dangerous, abusive, exploitative, or wholly commercial content.
(2) Fail to implement a mechanism for users to report suspected violations of any requirement under paragraph (1).
(c) An operator of a platform directed to children shall not do any of the following:
(1) Direct content that includes host-selling to covered users.
(2) Expose covered users to program-length advertisements.
(3) Direct branded content or native advertising to covered users.
(4) Direct online advertising or material with considerable commercial content involving alcohol, nicotine, or tobacco to covered users.
(5) Expose covered users to online advertising or material with considerable commercial content with any imbedded interactive elements that take advantage of covered users’ inexperience or credulity in noncommercial content directed to children.
(6) Direct content that includes product placement to covered users.
(d) For age verification purposes, an operator of a platform shall use only age verification information collected from covered users.

1798.304.
 (a) The Attorney General shall adopt all of the following regulations:
(1) Regulations requiring any operator of a platform directed to children to incorporate visual indicators that distinguish commercial content from noncommercial content.
(2) Regulations requiring an operator of a platform that is directed to children to publish and maintain a publicly accessible digital record of the viewable or playable content of that platform.
(3) Regulations concerning an annual audit process for purposes of evaluating the level of compliance with this title. The annual audit shall be conducted for 25 platforms that are directed to children and that have the highest total number of covered users in the past calendar year. The first annual audit shall be completed by January 1, 2027.
(b) The Attorney General shall adopt the regulations described in subdivision (a) by January 1, 2026.

1798.305.
 A violation of Section 1798.303 shall constitute unfair competition pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 17200) of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Business and Professions Code.