A federal judge granted a request to block the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (CAADCA), a law that requires special data safeguards for underage online users. In a ruling issued today, Judge Beth Freeman granted a preliminary injunction to tech industry group NetChoice, saying the law likely violates the First Amendment. It’s the latest of several state-level Internet regulations that will be blocked while a lawsuit against them plays out, including some that will likely reach the Supreme Court.
The CAADCA aims to expand existing laws, such as the federal COPPA framework, that govern how sites can collect data from children. But Judge Freeman objected to several of its provisions, saying they would unlawfully attack legal expression. “Although the stated purpose of the Act (protecting children when they are online) is clearly important, NetChoice has shown that it is likely to succeed based on its argument that the CAADCA provisions intended to achieve that purpose are not constitutionally approved. come together,” Freeman wrote.
Freeman cites arguments from legal writer Eric Goldman, who argued that the law force sites to put up barriers For children and adults alike. Among other things, the ruling challenges the requirement that sites estimate the ages of visitors to detect underage users. The provision is ostensibly intended to reduce the amount of data collected on young users, but Freeman notes that it could involve invasive technology like facial scans or analysis of biometric information, which ironically requires users to provide further personal information.
The law offers sites an alternative to making data collection for all users follow minor standards, but Freeman found that this would also chill legal speech, since part of the law’s goal is to prevent targeted advertising that would show content objectionable to children. “Data and privacy protections intended to protect children from harmful content, if applied to adults, will also protect adults from that same content,” Freeman concluded.