Minnesota Age Appropriate Design Code: An effort to protect kids from online and offline world

Do you remember Club Penguin? If you are in your early 20s, you may have met your pals online there. If you have kids in their early 20s, you may remember it as a break from Barney. It was an online meeting place for kids. It looked like a playground and everyone was a Penguin. Messaging was minimal. Somehow my kids knew to meet their friends in certain areas, but it required some real world intervention. Either plans would be made at school, by phone or while your friend was on the other couch. I’m pretty tech savvy, I remember investigating it back and the day and decided I was OK with it.

Fast forward and to borrow from Dorothy Gale, we’re not in Club Penguin anymore. TikTok, Snap Chat, Instagram sit on the tip of a very deep iceberg of platforms online where people can get connected. I have done online safety classes with high school students and I can tell you for sure, they are too trusting, they don’t think of consequences and they don’t understand the technology as well as we like to think. I’m a big advocate for more online safety training at all ages but at a certain point, it makes sense to get the technology companies on board with helping to create safe spaces or safer spaces online, especially for kids and that it what the Minnesota Age Appropriate Design Code Bill (AADC) is trying to do.

According to Minnesota Kids Code, advocates for the bill …

• The Code would require companies to prioritize the online privacy and safety of children in the design of any digital product or service that children in Minnesota are likely to access.
• It would restrict data collection and profiling of children in ways that are detrimental to them. This would reduce the risk of harmful conduct, contracts, risky connections, and addictive online features being pushed towards Minnesota’s children.
• It would require high privacy settings by default in a variety of ways, for example: prohibiting the collection of geolocation information by default, the collection of any personal data that is not necessary to deliver a service which a child requested, and prohibiting the use of “dark patterns” or “nudge” techniques to manipulate children into weakening their privacy protections.

It has been based off regulations in the UK and a similar law in California. The bill has been introduced in the Minnesota House (HF2257) and Senate (SF2810).

This entry was posted in MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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