THE BUZZ: California dealt back-to-back blows to the tech industry this week with a pair of bills meant to curb the harmful effects of social media.
If things go according to supporters’ plans, the new policies could ripple out to cause similar restrictions in other states.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed Assembly Bill 2273, authored by Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) and Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), that will set new standards for online spaces often visited by children, like YouTube and TikTok, such as limiting push notifications late at night. As POLITICO’s Sakura Cannestra reported yesterday, the law also restricts the collection and sharing of kids’ personal data, specifically information that’s unrelated to the online platform’s services. It’s modeled after the United Kingdom’s Age Appropriate Design Code.
On Tuesday, the governor also signed a separate bill on content moderation, which came in response to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and will require social media companies to publish their policies and report to the state data on their enforcement actions against users.
In signing AB 2273, Newsom, a father of four, noted he’s familiar with the issues young people are facing online, saying, “we’re taking aggressive action in California to protect the health and wellbeing of our kids.” In addition to the bill’s authors, he also offered an unexpected compliment to the tech industry, for “pushing these protections and putting the wellbeing of our kids first.”
We say the compliment was unexpected because, for the large part, the legislation was consistently fought by tech giants. Opponents included TechNet, a coalition of dozens of tech companies from Amazon to Zoom. That group, along with the California Chamber of Commerce, Entertainment Software Association, and California Manufacturers & Technology Association, complained that the bill contained a “great deal of subjectivity.”
Industry lobbyists also tried, unsuccessfully, to add some limiting amendments to the bill, like one that would have excluded older teens from the new law. While the 18-year-old age cap made it into the bill’s final form, companies will have a 90-day buffer to make fixes before being fined.
The governor, who has close ties to the tech world, didn’t offer much indication prior to the signing about whether he’d support the bill. Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s supported the bill. Earlier this month, Pelosi signaled her support as she called for changes to a federal data privacy bill to make sure it wouldn’t undercut the state’s laws.
“States must be allowed to address rapid changes in technology,” she said in her statement.
Wicks and Cunningham celebrated the bill’s signing, saying it will now force Silicon Valley companies to design their products in the best interests of children. But digital rights group Fight for the Future slammed both pieces of legislation on Thursday, saying they will “threaten human rights and free expression online.”
“Requiring age verification also makes it nearly impossible to use online services anonymously, which threatens freedom of expression, particularly for marginalized communities, human rights activists, whistleblowers, and journalists,” the group said of AB 2273. “It’s immoral and dangerous for lawmakers to continue using children as pawns to advance poorly-drafted legislation that does more harm than good.”
BUENOS DÍAS, good Friday morning. The Mosquito Fire burning in El Dorado and Placer Counties has reached more than 64,000 acres, making it the largest wildfire of 2022. As of last night, the blaze was 20 percent contained.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It is very interesting to see Governor Newsom’s 2024 primary campaign extend to Mississippi. But we do suspect that most Mississippians will not be interested in what he is selling.” Cory Custer, deputy chief of staff for external affairs for Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, one of seven states where Newsom deployed abortion rights billboards on Thursday.
TWEET OF THE DAY
WHERE’S GAVIN? In Solano County, to sign climate change legislation.
— “Legal pot spawned a wave of corruption, threats and secret financial deals for politicians,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Adam Elmahrek, Robert J. Lopez and Ruben Vives: “Lobbyists, pot entrepreneurs and public officials say bribery and shakedowns have become so commonplace in cannabis licensing that it feels like a normal part of doing business.”
FILE THIS UNDER ‘SUB ZERO INTEREST’ — Gavin Newsom promotes California as abortion sanctuary on red-state billboards, by POLITICO’s Lara Korte: Newsom’s campaign mentions a new California website intended to help people, including from out of state, obtain an abortion. The billboards also feature striking images of a woman in handcuffs, calling attention to both the states’ newly-enacted laws and one of the most vocal Democrats opposing them.
KARL’S CLIMATE FUTURE — “The Elusive Future of San Francisco’s Fog,” by The New York Times’ John Branch: “Every summer, fog breathes life into the Bay Area. But people who pay attention to its finer points, from scientists to sailors, city residents to real estate agents, gardeners to bridge painters, debate whether there is less fog than there used to be, as both science and general sentiment suggest.”
— “California’s Prop. 31 would ban flavored tobacco products. What to know,” by the Sacramento Bee’s Andrew Sheeler: “It penalizes retailers who sell flavored products such as menthol cigarettes or fruit-flavored cigarillos by fining them $250 for each violation. The law carves out several exemptions, including hookah, pipe and loose-leaf tobacco and high-dollar cigars.
— “4 Truths and 4 Lies: What the Latest Census Data Says About Perceptions of San Francisco,” by the San Francisco Standard’s Liz Lindqwister: “The common pandemic-era refrain about San Francisco has been that it lost a significant portion of its population in 2020 and 2021. ACS data already proved that point.”
— “Wage theft whack-a-mole: California workers win judgments against bosses but still don’t get paid,” by CalMatters’ Jeanne Kuang and Alejandro Lazo: “Five years after workers win wage theft claims, state records show only 1 in 7 were paid their judgments in full. Some companies appealed or ignored court judgments.”
WHO WANTS HOUSING — “Not just YIMBYs vs. NIMBYs: Chronicle poll breaks down S.F. housing attitudes by class, race and age,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Lauren Hepler: “According to the SFNext poll, an in-depth survey of San Francisco residents and the issues most important to them, the details vary based on age, race, income and whether someone already owns a home here.”
LESSONS LEARNED — “With monkeypox, California colleges seek to control spread of two diseases at once,” by CalMatters’ Mallika Seshadri: “California colleges are applying lessons learned from COVID-19 as they attempt to keep monkeypox from spreading on campuses. Experts say the disease poses a lower health risk than COVID but could keep students from their studies for longer periods.”
— “How one Bay Area county sparked a movement to ban new gas stations across California,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Dustin Gardiner: “The idea was born almost two years ago, when activists rallied to oppose plans to build a pair of mega gas stations in different parts of the county.”
— “California, tribal leaders announce new tourism initiative,” by The Associated Press’ Sophie Austin: “The initiative, Visit Native California, and its accompanying website are funded by a $1 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, which targets public health and economic impacts of the pandemic and was signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.”
CIRCULAR SUPPORT — “Kaiser patients felt trapped in a ‘circle of horror:’ How they fought for mental health care,” by the Sacramento Bee’s Cathie Anderson: “The strike by 2,000 mental health providers at Kaiser provoked a crisis for [Nam] Nguyen, but she and several other patients said they’ve long faced obstacles accessing mental health treatment through the giant network.”
— “Bay Area man found guilty of threatening Sen. Scott Wiener over vaccines,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Megan Cassidy: “The threat appeared to be a reference to a bill that Wiener had introduced days earlier, which would have allowed minors who were at least 15 years old to seek vaccines and other medical care without their parents’ consent.”
— Pelosi going to Armenia amid renewed clashes with Azerbaijan, by POLITICO’s Alexander Ward: With the midterms approaching — and the possibility that she will lose the gavel if Republicans return to the majority — the belief in Washington is that Pelosi wants to cement her legacy as a champion of human rights, not only in the United States but around the world.
— White House says Republican governors shipping migrants to other states is ‘reckless,’ ‘shameful’, by POLITICO’s Kelly Hooper: “The political tactic is being increasingly deployed by Republican governors with high influxes of undocumented immigrants to draw attention to what they consider failed immigration policies from the Biden administration.”
— “Hacker claims to breach Uber, security researcher says,” by The Associated Press’ Frank Bajak: “There was no indication that Uber’s fleet of vehicles or its operation was in any way affected.”
— “Former USC dean admits to arranging bribery payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton.
— “‘Rainbow fentanyl’ was just found in the Bay Area. What is it and why are experts alarmed?” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sarah Ravani.
— “Amtrak, Capitol Corridor restoring service after labor deal averts rail crisis,” by the Mercury News’ Eliyahu Kamisher.
BEAR-Y HUNGRY — “Bear snacks on candy bars in Olympic Village 7-Eleven store, video shows,” by the Sacramento Bee’s David Caraccio.
— “They wanted their drought-tolerant yard to spark conversations. But not on Nextdoor,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Boone.
— Tess Whittlesey is taking over as Sen. Alex Padilla’s communications director, sliding into the role after Vanessa Valdivia departed for first lady Jill Biden’s office.
— “Henry Fuhrmann, Times editor and ‘word nerd’ who fought for fairness in grammar, dies,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Thomas Curwen.
Meta’s Josh Ginsberg and Jackie Rooney
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Correction: An earlier version of California Playbook misspelled Tess Whittlesey’s name and misstated what office Vanessa Valdivia had joined. Valdivia joined first lady Jill Biden’s office.