Tech Giants Lobby Against New York’s Child Safety Bills


Google, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, and other tech giants are engaged in a fierce lobbying battle against two New York bills aimed at protecting children online, with spending expected to surpass $1 million.

The New York Post reports that recent public disclosures reveal that a group of Big Tech firms, advocacy groups, and companies from other sectors have spent $823,235 lobbying Albany lawmakers through mid-March. The lobbying efforts are focused on two high-profile bills: the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act.

The SAFE Act aims to crack down on addictive algorithms used by social media apps by requiring default chronological feeds for users 18 or younger unless they receive parental consent. It would also allow parents to impose time limits on social media use and in-app notifications. The Child Data Protection Act would block apps from collecting or selling the personal or location data of users under 18 without their consent, while kids under 13 would need a parent’s consent.

Mark Zuckerberg

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 01: in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC Apex on October 1, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Shou Zi Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., speaks during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. Photographer: Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The true scope of Big Tech’s spending to derail the legislation is difficult to pin down, but it is expected to surpass the $1 million mark when the next round of disclosures surfaces next month. Danny Weiss, chief advocacy officer at Common Sense Media, which supports the bills, stated, “They are spending a lot of money to oppose these bills, as if they pose an existential threat to New York.” He added, “This could be considered ‘historic’ in the sense that the bills are relatively low impact for the state compared with other issues that get a lot of lobbyist attention.”

Both bills have been endorsed by Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and State Attorney General Letitia James. During a January press conference, Hochul described social media as “a silent killer of our children’s generation.” The bills are expected to move through committee in the state assembly as soon as this week, followed by a floor vote, and the state senate is also expected to vote on the bills in the near future. More than 25 other groups, including Mothers Against Media Addiction and the New York State United Teachers Union, have also expressed support for the bills.

Tech firms have hit back, citing fears that the legislation would stifle freedom of speech, online privacy for teens, limit internet access for migrants and other “underserved” communities, and essentially disable algorithms that help to crack down on hate speech.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D), who co-sponsors the bills, said opponents have funded an aggressive “whisper campaign” in Albany to delay or defeat the legislation. “It certainly makes the job a lot harder, because these companies, with limitless resources, are able to hire armies of lobbyists who just camp out in the capital all day,” Gounardes said. “Legislators come and go and these folks are whispering in everyone’s ear.”

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, spent the most on lobbying related to the tech bills and other items on the state agenda. A Meta spokesperson said the company supports federal legislation that would require app stores to get parents’ approval when kids under 16 download apps, rather than a state-by-state solution. Other top spenders include Google and TikTok, with the latter filing a federal lawsuit to block a divestiture bill that would sever its ties to Chinese ownership over national security concerns.

Read more at the New York Post here.

Lucas Nolan
Lucas Nolan
Lucas Nolan is a journalist and author whose work has been featured on Breitbart News and The Drudge Report. He's currently working on his first book.

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