Maryland becomes second US State to unanimously adopt Age Appropriate Design Code

Following the example of California, Maryland legislators on 6th of April unanimously passed the Maryland Kids Code, marking another major win for children’s privacy and safety in the US. First introduced with 5Rights support last year, the Maryland Kids Code went through both chambers of the General Assembly with strong support and minor amendments, despite strong pushback by industry. Governor Wes Moore now has 30 days to sign it into law.

The Maryland Kids Code is modelled on the highly respected Age Appropriate Design Code which is incrementally sweeping the globe in various forms as part of efforts to protect children online. With the same standard for children’s privacy and data protection passed in California in 2022, the Maryland bill further reinforces an emerging global standard for the protection of children’s rights online.  

5Rights Executive Director Leanda Barrington-Leach said:

“This is another hard-won but very deserved victory for children, for parents, for teachers, for US society as a whole. These unanimous votes show that support for the Age Appropriate Design Code’s safety-by-design and privacy-by-default principles transcends political divides. They reflect mounting public calls for smart, effective policy solutions to protect kids online. While tech companies continue to fight change, it is time to recognise that it is inevitable. Protecting and respecting children must be the price of doing business.”

Marisa Shea, Senior Policy Manager at 5Rights US, and resident of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, said:

“Here in Maryland, we just made history in the fight to hold Tech accountable. We are delighted that legislators and civil society organizations are continuing to recognise the importance of this piece of legislation and are grateful to Delegates Jared Solomon and C.T. Wilson, along with Senators Benjamin Kramer and Chris West for their strong leadership.

Now, we are hopeful Governor Moore will quickly sign this bill into law.”

The new Kids Code will require privacy by design and default, and for products and services to be age appropriate, if they are reasonably likely to be accessed by them. Changes made to date by companies to comply with the Age Appropriate Design Code include: Google instituted ‘safe search’ for all under 18s; YouTube and Snapchat defaulted all accounts of under 18s to high privacy settings; Instagram stopped unknown adults from messaging children; TikTok turned off notifications through the night; Pinterest stopped showing children advertising.