Attorney General Bonta Continues Defense of California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code Act

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Files opening brief in the Ninth Circuit seeking to overturn district court’s preliminary injunction 

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of California’s law requiring companies to prioritize the online privacy, safety, and well-being of children over commercial interests. In the brief, Attorney General Bonta seeks to overturn a preliminary injunction blocking the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act from going into effect. The preliminary injunction was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on September 18, 2023, and Attorney General Bonta filed a notice of appeal on October 18, 2023. 

“The companies challenging this law are doing so because they want to continue to profit from our kids’ online activity. As the People’s Attorney, and as a proud father of three, I won’t stand idly by,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The California legislature unanimously adopted the California Age-Appropriate Design Code to elevate kids’ privacy and safety online. In enjoining the law, the court got this one wrong: The Age-Appropriate Design Code is about protecting children’s data, not limiting free speech. In California, we will continue to fight to protect our kids from those who seek to exploit their childhood experiences for profit, and we urge the Ninth Circuit to vacate the preliminary injunction.”

The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act is a first-in-the-nation law aimed at safeguarding children online, and the Attorney General’s appeal seeks to overturn a district court decision that preliminarily enjoined the law in response to a lawsuit brought by an online trade association representing companies such as Google, Meta, Amazon, Twitter, and TikTok. The act requires that businesses that trade in consumers’ personal information and offer products, services, and features likely to be accessed by children proactively protect their young users’ information, and prohibits certain actions that involve the collection and use of that information.

Authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 15, 2022. The law was modeled after the United Kingdom’s Age Appropriate Design Code, which similarly requires that websites likely to be accessed by children provide privacy protections by default. The Legislature unanimously passed the law, finding that more needs to be done to create a safer online space for children to learn, explore, and play. 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. 

Attorney General Bonta's brief argues that the Ninth Circuit should overturn the district court’s ruling, which would block enforcement of the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, because the Act does not regulate speech or infringe on businesses’ rights. 

A copy of the brief is available here.

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