Oregon Lawmaker Introduces Kids' Online Safety Code

Following California's lead, an Oregon state lawmaker has introduced a bill that aims to require web companies to design their sites and apps with young users' “well-being” and “best interests” in mind.

The proposed Oregon law would prohibit online businesses from “from taking any action the business knows, or has reason to know, is materially detrimental to a child’s physical or mental health or well-being.”

The bill also would prohibit companies from drawing on the personal information of users under 18 “in a manner that the business knows, or has reason to know, is materially detrimental to the physical or mental health or well-being of the child.”

Other provisions would limit companies' ability to collect data from users under 18, or to engage in profiling. Among a host of privacy-related terms, the bill would specifically require companies to configure default settings for minors to “the highest level of privacy and data protections available, unless the business can demonstrate a compelling reason that a different default privacy setting is in the best interests of children.”



California recently passed a similar bill, which is slated to take effect in July of 2024.

Late last year, the tech industry organization NetChoice sued to block the California bill, arguing that it violates the federal and state constitutions.

NetChoice argued in its complaint that terms like “best interests,” “well-being” and “harmful” are inherently subjective, which will lead companies to err on the side of suppression.

NetChoice specifically said the law violates free-speech principles by interfering with online companies' “First Amendment rights to editorial discretion,” and by restricting “how publishers may address or promote content that a government censor thinks unsuitable for minors.”

That case is being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman in the Northern District of California. She is slated to hold a conference in the matter on April 13.

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