A group of Big Tech companies spearheaded by Google and Meta Platforms are lobbying to kill two proposed New York bills intended to protect minors online, with records showing that nearly $1 million has already been spent on the effort.

First reported by the New York Post, recent public disclosures reveal that as of March, Google, Meta, TikTok, Roblox, PayPal, Snap, and more have contributed $823,235 lobbying New York lawmakers to stop the pair of bills—the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act—from being put to a vote. As the outlet reported, a state government insider described the ongoing push as “an astonishing amount of money to be spent to kill two reasonable bills.”

The SAFE for Kids Act restricts the “addictive” features of social media algorithms by requiring default chronological feeds that do not automatically refresh for users under 18 unless parental permission is given. The bill also allows parents to implement time limits on app usage and push notifications.

The Child Data Protection Act prevents apps from collecting and selling user data from anyone under 18 without consent. Data collection from children under 13 would require parental consent as well.

Both bills are currently progressing toward legislative votes and have been endorsed by Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and State Attorney General Letitia James.

Learn the benefits of becoming a Valuetainment Member and subscribe today!

The disclosure forms show each company’s overall spending on legislation in New York and do not record stances on individual bills, making it difficult to determine the full scope of the Big Tech efforts against the two Acts. However, statements from the companies involved have made their opposition to both bills clear and their combined spending is expected to surpass $1 million by the next disclosure at the end of June.

“This could be considered ‘historic’ in the sense that the bills are relatively low impact for the state compared with other issues that get a lot of lobbyist attention,” said Danny Weiss, a Capitol Hill veteran and chief advocacy officer at Common Sense Media, which supports the bills. “They are spending a lot of money to oppose these bills, as if they pose an existential threat to New York.”

The bills are expected to move through committee and be put up for a floor vote as soon as next week. Both are backed by more than 25 children and family advocacy groups, including Mothers Against Media Addiction and the New York State United Teachers Union.

The tech firms that oppose the legislation argue that the bills would stifle free speech online, limit internet access for “migrants and other underserved communities,” and undermine existing efforts to crack down on hate speech.

A spokesperson for Meta Platforms stated that the company supports federal legislation requiring parental consent for app download, but questions the efficacy of requirements that vary from state to state.

“Teens move interchangeably between many websites and apps, and different laws in different states will mean teens and their parents have inconsistent experiences online,” the company statement said. “As we continue working with New York lawmakers, it’s crucial that we avoid quick fixes and, instead, support legislation that actually empowers parents and supports teens online.”

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Valuetainment.com. Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

Add comment