Attorney General Bonta, Assemblymember Wicks, Senator Skinner Introduce Legislation to Protect Youth Online

Monday, January 29, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Legislation includes SB 976 to protect youth from online addiction, and AB 1949 related to kids’ online data privacy

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senator Nancy Skinner, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks today introduced the Protecting Youth from Social Media Addiction Act (SB 976), and the California Children’s Data Privacy Act (AB 1949), landmark legislation seeking to protect youth online. These two bills, sponsored by Attorney General Bonta and authored by Senator Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Assemblymember Wicks (D-Oakland), would limit the harms associated with social media addiction and provide more robust protections for kids’ data privacy. This marks an important continuation of Attorney General Bonta’s commitment to improving child safety online. 

 "Social media companies have shown us time and time again that for profits, they are willing to harness addictive content to target a vulnerable population: our children,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “As kids and young adults increasingly socialize, learn, and work online, we must create a safer online space for children to learn, explore, and play. This cannot wait. We need to act now to protect our children. It’s time to move fast and fix things. The two bills we are announcing today take an important step toward that goal by strengthening data privacy protections for minors and safeguarding youth against social media addiction.”

 “Social media companies have designed their platforms to addict users, especially our kids. Countless studies show that once a young person has a social media addiction, they experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem,” said Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. “We’ve waited long enough for social media companies to act. SB 976 is needed now to establish sensible guardrails so parents can protect their kids from these preventable harms.”

“In a digital age where the vulnerabilities of young users are continually exploited, we cannot afford to let our laws lag behind – our children deserve complete assurance that their online experience will be safeguarded from invasive practices,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland. “With AB 1949 we have a critical opportunity to build on the important work we’ve already done with the CCPA by expanding protections for ALL youth under 18. This bill is a crucial step in our work to close the gaps in our privacy laws that have allowed tech giants to exploit and monetize our kids’ sensitive data with impunity.”

SB 976 takes steps to protect young users from online addiction. SB 976 would give parents the choice of whether users under the age of 18 would receive a chronological feed from users they already follow or the current default, an algorithmic feed. Algorithmic feeds are addictive and heavy social media use can cause mental health harms to young users. Additionally, parents and guardians would also have the choice of halting social media notifications and blocking access to platforms for minors during nighttime hours and during the school day.  

In October, Attorney General Bonta co-led a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general in filing a federal lawsuit against Meta Platforms, Inc. and affiliates (Meta), alleging that Meta designed and deployed harmful features that addict children and teens to their mental and physical detriment. Unredacted documents from this lawsuit demonstrate Meta is aware and purposefully utilizing algorithmic content delivery to target and addict children to social media — actions that they know is causing harm. 

Among other damning revelations, Mark Zuckerberg personally vetoed Meta’s proposed policy to ban image filters that simulated the effects of plastic surgery, despite internal pushback and an expert consensus that such filters harm users’ mental health, especially for women and girls. Meta also continuously misrepresented that its social media platforms were safe, while internal data revealed that users experienced harms on its platforms at far higher rates- and referred to young users as “a valuable but untapped audience.” 

AB 1949 strengthens protections of data privacy rights of children under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). CCPA secures increased privacy rights for California consumers, including the right to know what personal information businesses collect and sell, and the right to stop those sales to third parties. As it stands, CCPA does not effectively protect 17-year-olds, or limit businesses from collecting or exploiting the data of young users, so long as they do not sell it. This gap has allowed companies like Google and Meta to collect, exploit, and monetize young users’ data on a massive scale. Despite businesses’ awareness that children use their services, businesses currently design their online services to include features that may be harmful to children, including manipulative techniques to prod them to spend hours on end online or provide personal information beyond what is expected or necessary. 

AB 1949 would amend the CCPA to prohibit businesses from collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of anyone under the age of 18, unless they receive informed consent or unless doing so is strictly necessary for the purpose of the business. For users under 13, this informed consent must come from a parent. The bill authorizes the Office of the Attorney General to enforce the law and seek injunctive relief, damages, or civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to children’s online safety and privacy. In March 2022, Attorney General Bonta announced an ongoing investigation into TikTok for harms to youth associated with the use of its platform. On March 5, 2023, Attorney General Bonta filed an amicus brief supporting efforts to compel TikTok to produce subpoenaed materials and evidence. Attorney General Bonta is continuing to zealously defend AB 2273, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (AADC), which would be complemented by the protections provided by this legislation. AADC is a law unanimously passed by the Legislature in 2022 that seeks to protect children by ensuring that online products, services, or features are designed in a manner that recognizes the distinct needs of children at different age ranges.

In August 2022, Attorney General Bonta announced a settlement with Sephora resolving allegations that it failed to disclose to consumers that it was selling their personal information and failed to process opt-out requests via user-enabled global privacy controls in violation of the CCPA. Moreover, Attorney General Bonta has conducted several investigative sweeps, most recently of popular streaming service apps and devices in an effort to understand how companies are complying with consumer opt-out requests for consumers who want to stop the sale of their data.

For more information about the CCPA, visit To report a violation of the CCPA to the Attorney General, consumers can submit a complaint online at




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