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Maryland Passes Two Major Privacy Bills, Despite Tech Industry Pushback| GuyWhoKnowsThings

The Maryland Legislature passed two sweeping privacy bills this weekend that aim to restrict how powerful tech platforms can collect and use the personal data of consumers and young people, despite strong objections from trade groups. of the industry representing giants such as Amazon, Google and Meta.

A ticket, the Maryland Online Data Privacy Law, would impose broad restrictions on how companies can collect and use consumers' personal data in the state. The other, the Maryland Children's Codewould prohibit certain social networks, video games and other online platforms from tracking people under 18 and using manipulative techniques, such as auto-playing videos or bombarding children with notifications, to keep young people glued online.

“We're making a statement to the tech industry and Marylanders that we need to control some of this data collection,” the delegate said. Sara Love, Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates. Ms. Love, who sponsored the consumer bill and co-sponsored the children's bill, described the passage of the two measures as a “huge” privacy milestone, adding: “We need to put up some barriers to protect our consumers.”

The new rules require approval from Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland, a Democrat, who has not taken a public stance on the measures.

With the passage of the bills, Maryland joins a small number of states, including California, Connecticut, Texas and Utah, that have enacted comprehensive privacy laws and safeguards for children's online or social media privacy. . But the tech industry has challenged some of the new laws.

Over the past year, NetChoice, a technology industry trade group representing AmazonGoogle and Meta, has successfully sued to stop children's online privacy or social media restrictions in several states, arguing that the laws violated their members' constitutional rights to freely distribute information.

NetChoice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Maryland Children's Code is based on a California law of 2022, called the Age Appropriate Design Code Act. Like the California law, the Maryland bill would require certain social media and gaming platforms to turn on the highest privacy settings by default for minors. It would also prohibit the services from unnecessary profiling of minors and collecting their precise locations.

However, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked that state's children's code and ruled in favor of NetChoice on free speech grounds. (The New York Times and the Student Press Law Center filed a joint lawsuit friend of the court writing last year in the California case in support of NetChoice, arguing that the law could limit newsworthy content available to students).

NetChoice has also opposed Maryland's Children's Code. In testimony last year In opposing an earlier version of the bill, Carl Szabo, general counsel at NetChoice, argued that it affected the rights of companies to freely distribute information, as well as the rights of minors and adults to freely obtain information.

Maryland lawmakers say they have since worked with constitutional experts and revised it to address free speech concerns. The bill was passed unanimously.

“We are technically the second state to pass a Children's Code,” the delegate said. Jared Solomon, a Democratic state legislator who sponsored the children's code bill. “But we hope to be the first state to withstand the inevitable court challenge we know is coming.”

Several other tech industry trade groups have strongly opposed the other bill passed Saturday, the Maryland Online Data Privacy Act.

That bill would require companies to minimize the data they collect about consumers online. It would also prohibit online services from collecting or sharing intimate personal information, such as data about ethnicity, religion, health, sexual orientation, precise location, biometric data or immigration status, unless “strictly necessary.”

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