SANTA FE — State Senators George K. Muñoz (D-Cibola County), Mark Moores (R-Bernalillo County), and Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Catron County) have introduced the New Mexico Age Appropriate Design Code, legislation aimed at protecting the wellbeing, data, and privacy of children online. The landmark bill would overhaul safety standards across websites and apps that children and teens are likely to access, and protect their digital footprint from being surveilled or sold for financial gain.
“As parents, we have seen the major role the internet plays in our children’s lives. Yet all the preponderance of evidence we’re learning is that tech platforms aren’t built with the safety of kids in mind,” said Senators Muñoz, Moores, and Correa Hemphill. “As lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle, we feel an obligation to set a framework that prioritizes kids’ safety by making tech platforms take some very basic steps to protect the privacy, health and wellbeing of New Mexico’s young people.”
This legislation has already succeeded in protecting children across the globe and in other U.S. states. Currently, New Mexico’s children and teens do not have the same protections and rights that can keep them safe online. The New Mexico Age Appropriate Design Code is a proven framework that has led to tangible and historic change – including TikTok turning off strangers’ ability to message kids, Google turning on Safe Search by default, and YouTube disabling autoplay by default for users under the age of 18. New Mexico can benefit from these same advancements and finally hold tech companies accountable.
“Creating a safe environment for kids online and offline is my number one priority as a mother, which is why I support the New Mexico Age Appropriate Design Code” said Tracy Kemp, a Clovis resident. “This past year, my son was subjected to extreme racial cyberbullying on social media that drastically affected his mental health. So I know first hand the importance of holding Big Tech accountable for the harms they routinely cause our children.”
There have been a string of privacy lawsuits from tech companies like Facebook and Google that exemplify the need for parameters around children’s online presence. Last week, the White House took a stance against data privacy violations and raised this as a national issue.
In 2022, 97% of 13 to 17-year-olds said they use the internet daily, and 46% say they use the internet “almost constantly.” Due to the growing presence of minors online, tech companies have profited off of children’s data and opened the door to very harmful practices. Some examples include:
- 75% of the top social media platforms use Al to recommend children’s profiles to strangers.
- Out of 135 children’s apps, 95% contain at least one type of advertising displayed through manipulative and disruptive methods.
- 60% of school-based apps share kids’ data with third parties.
Senate Bill 319 requires websites and apps that children are likely to access to take necessary steps to ensure the digital safety of children. Specifically, the legislation will:
- Require tech companies to design products likely to be accessed by children with children’s well-being in mind.
- Restrict collection, processing, storage, and transfer of children’s data and profiling of children in ways that are detrimental to children – thereby reducing the risk of harmful materials and risky connections being pushed towards children.
- Require high privacy settings by default, switch off geolocation, and prohibit the use of nudge techniques that encourage children to weaken their privacy protections.
- Make clear how young users can control their feeds to tailor their experience to the information and materials they want to view.
- Let kids know when they are being monitored, tracked, and make it easy for children to report privacy concerns.
- New Mexico Kids Code Website & Toolkit
- Design It For Us youth advocacy group supporting the Age Appropriate Design Code
- Full text of legislation