144 State Bills Aim to Secure Child Online Safety As Congress Flounders

Tim Bernard recently completed an MBA at Cornell Tech, focusing on tech policy and trust & safety issues. He previously led the content moderation team at Seeking Alpha, and worked in various capacities in the education sector. Bipartisan federal bills aimed at protecting children online continue to be introduced and reintroduced in Congress, from KOSA, STOP CSAM, and EARN-IT to COPPA 2.0. But given that none of these bills appear likely to become law, it’s perhaps no surprise that the States have taken up the mantle to protect children online. California led the way with the California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill (AADC), signed into law last September and set to take effect in July of next year, pending legal challenge. Another notable example from last year is Louisiana’s law requiring adult websites to verify the age of users in an effort to restrict access by children. In fact, the sheer scale of these State legislative efforts is eye-opening. Based upon an in-depth review of state legislatures, I identified 144 different bills, spanning 43 states, that were introduced in 2023 and specifically attempt to protect children from various harms on the Internet. These laws vary significantly, with some pronounced differences between Democratic and Republican legislators: in very broad strokes, Democrats have proposed laws similar to the AADC that require platforms to mitigate harms to minors, while Republicans appear to be focused on age verification measures or filtering laws, often to restrict access to pornography. This year, Utah has already enacted…144 State Bills Aim to Secure Child Online Safety As Congress Flounders