Meta, formerly known as Facebook, and several Amazon-funded groups are lobbying to defeat state bills aimed at protecting children’s online privacy and safety. The bills would require tech companies to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 and implement safety features to prevent online predators from accessing children’s accounts.
The lobbying efforts have drawn criticism from child safety advocates who argue that Meta and Amazon are prioritizing their profits over the safety of children. The bills have already been passed in several states, including California, Colorado, and Maine, but the tech giants are fighting them in other states.
Meta’s involvement in the lobbying effort is particularly notable given the company’s history of mishandling user data and failing to adequately protect minors from harmful content and online predators. The company has faced numerous lawsuits and government investigations related to its handling of user data, including a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2019.
Critics argue that Meta’s opposition to the children’s privacy bills is hypocritical given the company’s public statements about its commitment to user privacy and safety. The company has previously stated that it supports efforts to protect children online and has implemented some measures, such as the Messenger Kids app, to provide a safer experience for young users.
Amazon’s involvement in the lobbying effort is also drawing scrutiny, particularly given the company’s recent efforts to expand its presence in the children’s entertainment market with offerings such as Amazon Kids+. Critics argue that the company should be doing more to protect children from online predators and harmful content, rather than fighting legislation aimed at doing just that.
The lobbying efforts by Meta and Amazon-funded groups highlight the ongoing tensions between tech companies and policymakers over how best to protect children’s online privacy and safety. While some tech companies have taken steps to address these concerns, many advocates argue that much more needs to be done to ensure that children are not put at risk by the online services they use.
In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether the children’s privacy bills will continue to gain traction in other states or be defeated by the lobbying efforts of tech giants like Meta and Amazon.