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Elon Musk Seemingly Supports NY “Child Safety” Bill for Digital ID and Limiting “Addictive” Feeds

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Elon Musk stopped just short of explicitly endorsing two New York state online child safety bills even though, for the proposals to work, platforms would have to implement age verification and digital ID for people to access online platforms.

The X owner’s reaction to a post about Meta and Google reportedly spending more than a million as they lobby against the bills read, “In sharp contrast, X supports child safety bills.”

It remains unclear whether Musk expressed his support for these particular bills – New York Senate Bill S7694 and Bill S3281 – or the legislative efforts in general to make the internet a safer place for minors. Another possibility is that he was not missing a chance to criticize the competition.

Either way, there are two problems with such efforts that keep cropping up in various jurisdictions: very often, the proposed laws are far broader, but use the issue of protecting children as the main talking point to shut up any opposition.

And, as in this case, they call for some form of age verification to be introduced, which is only doable by identifying everyone who visits sites or uses platforms, undermining online anonymity, and curbing free speech.

A press source who criticized Google and Meta for their lobbying effort (while speaking on condition of anonymity) said the bills’ provisions are “reasonable;” at least, most of them.

On the reasonable side is Bill S7694’s intention to, by amending general business law, make sure minors do not encounter “addictive” feeds on the social media they use.

This would be achieved by showing chronological rather than algorithmically manipulated feeds to those established to be minors.

Another provision is to limit the time and access these users can spend on the sites during the night, as a health benefit.

Bill S3281 deals with child data privacy, seeking to ban the harvesting of this data (and subsequent targeted advertising), as well as requiring “data controllers to assess the impact of its products on children for review by the Bureau of Internet and Technology.”

But the elephant in the room is – how are platforms supposed to know a user’s actual age?

This is where age verification comes in: the bills speak about using “commercially reasonable methods” to make sure a user is not a minor, and age verification through digital ID is also demanded to achieve “verifiable parental consent.”

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