We might get a bit editorial here but — truthfully — this is head-scratching stuff.
The California Assembly has passed a bill that will allow parents to sue social media companies if they can prove the site caused their children to become addicted, and therefore, harms them.
The maximum penalty — if found guilty — is $25,000.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Assemblymember, Jordan Cunningham. He said streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. are not involved in the bill. It only applies to companies that offer text messaging services or email services.
This is our maybe we’re a bit editorial part. However, there is in the bill that will allow social media companies to sue parents who ought to be monitoring what under age 18 children are doing.
Back to the bill. After it passed, Cunningham said, “The era of unfettered social experimentation on children is over and we will protect kids.”
To be honest, many in the Assembly voted to pass the bill so conversation on the subject can continue in the California Legislature. Many have reservations about this kind of Draconian approach and said they are open to alternatives.
None were suggested. Not even one.
Assemblymember Ken Cooley is a Democrat and a lawyer. He contends he normally opposes laws that encourage lawsuits, but in this case something needs to change. Cooley voted yes and supports the bill because there is a need to “change the dynamics of what is surrounding us, surrounding our kids. We have to do something. If it doesn’t turn out right we can modify as we go along.”
Here are more details. This law — if passed — will only be applicable to social media firms with $100 million in gross revenue in the past year. It also defines addiction as physically, mentally, emotionally, developmentally or materially.
Social media companies will be penalized if these kids want to quit — or at least want to reduce the amount of time they spend on the site — but can’t because they’re obsessed.
No one yet knows who will decide what features are addictive, but whoever does that will allow the social media site to avoid a suit if they remove those features. Social media sites that regularly audit content and remove addictive content will also be exempt from being sued.
You can imagine the outcry and the worries from business groups if the California Senate passes the bill and sends it to the governor. Many use social media sources for advertising and say these companies will simply stop operating in California if they face this kind of legal risk.
TechNet is a bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior execs. It wrote to members of the assembly and said if this becomes law “social media companies and online web services would have no choice but to cease operations for kids under 18 and would implement stringent age-verification in order to ensure that adolescents did not use their sites,” the group said and added, “There is no social media company let alone any business that could tolerate that legal risk.”
The bill heads to the California Senate where it will — no doubt — be subject to bunches of hearings. Maybe those “alternatives” will show up then.
Source link: Insurance Journal — https://bit.ly/3PR6b7G
Social Media Part 2 — California, Parents, Social Media Addiction & Lawsuits
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