SAINT PAUL — State Representatives Kristin Bahner (DFL-Maple Grove) and Steve Elkins (DFL-Bloomington) introduced the Minnesota Age Appropriate Design Code, legislation that would protect the wellbeing, data, and privacy of children online. The landmark bill would mandate safety standards across social media apps and websites frequented by youth to protect their data from being sold and exploited.
“This is about putting our children and our youth first, not allowing their privacy and well-being to be an afterthought. We can and must do better, our kids deserve better,” Rep Bahner said. “We must put the best interest of the child first, and not corporate profits. This bill allows us to create a digital world that provides the protection our children deserve, rather than after the harm has been done to our youngest citizens.”
Tech platforms have been profiting off of children’s internet usage, leaving them exposed to harmful practices like recommending their profiles to strangers and having school-based apps share their data with third parties. In fact, a string of privacy lawsuits against tech companies like Facebook and Google exemplify the need for parameters around children’s online presence. Earlier this month, the White House took a stance against data privacy violations and raised this as a national issue. Companies must be held accountable for putting our youth’s safety at risk.
The Minnesota Age Appropriate Design Code would require websites and apps commonly used by youth to:
- Design their products with children’s well-being in mind.
- Restrict data collection and profiling of children that are detrimental to children to reduce harmful materials and risky connections being shown to them.
- Turn on high privacy settings by default, turn off geolocation tracking, and prohibit the use of nudge techniques to push children to weaken privacy protections.
- Clearly demonstrate to young users that they can control their feeds to tailor their experience to the information and materials they want to view.
- YouTube has disabled autoplay by default for users under the age 18
- Google has turned on Safe Search as a default setting
- TikTok has turned off strangers’ ability to message kids
Currently, Minnesota’s youth do not have these same protections and rights that can keep them safe online. The Minnesota Age Appropriate Design Code would change that.
- Minnesota Kids Code Website
- Design It For Us youth advocacy group supporting the Age Appropriate Design Code
- Full text of legislation