California follows UK lead as child data protection law is passed

California bill designed to protect children online, modelled on existing UK legislation, passes the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support

30 August 2022

The UK’s approach to protecting children online received a significant endorsement today after California, the home of Silicon Valley, passed a bill modelled on the UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code.

The California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill (AB 2273), which today passed the California Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support, 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 one hundred 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.”

Buffy Wicks, California State Assemblywoman and lead author of AB 2273, said:

“Today is a victory for us all. I’m proud to have worked with so many inspiring organisations and young people to make this change happen – one that as a mom I see as a necessity.

“We’ve seen from the UK Code that tech can be regulated, and I hope that with AB 2273 we will now see this change in California too. We hope this successful model will be replicated by other States, and countries more widely across the globe. Children deserve to be protected wherever they are in the world, whether that’s offline or online.”

If signed by the Governor, the California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill will bring the world one step closer to delivering the digital world that young people deserve – one that is safe by design and by default. Sponsored by 5Rights Foundation, the bill is modelled on the UK’s ground-breaking Code of the same name – legislation brought forward by Code architect Baroness Beeban Kidron, Crossbench Peer in the UK House of Lords and Founder of 5Rights Foundation.

The UK Age Appropriate Design Code, which celebrates its first anniversary on Friday 2nd September, has brought forward hundreds of changes already. This includes Google making SafeSearch the default browsing mode for all under 18s; TikTok and Instagram disabling direct messages between children and adults they do not follow; and TikTok not pushing notifications after 9pm to children aged 13-15 and after 10pm to 16-17 year olds. See further examples here.

Lawmakers in California were supported by a vast coalition of organisations, including children and young people in the Design It For Us campaign. Today’s news is a victory for them all.

  • Read more about the UK Age Appropriate DesignCode here.
  • Read more about the California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill (AB 2273) here.