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NY introduces sweeping child privacy bill to make kids safer online

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A bill aiming to guard kids online has been introduced within the Latest York state senate, and it could force social media corporations to implement a bunch of safety features — including bans on promoting to children and on mining their data.

The laws, introduced by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn) on Friday, is modeled after a California bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law earlier this month despite searing opposition from Big Tech groups.

The Golden State’s Age-Appropriate Design Code Act — a primary of its kind law within the US — requires that online platforms design their products with children in mind and put up guardrails to guard their privacy.

The Latest York laws, while similar, takes further steps by including quite a few provisions meant to assist families within the event of great harms committed against kids online.

“We have the desire to make the Web secure for everyone and that is one method to try this,” Gounardes explained. 

Brooklyn attorney Carrie Goldberg, who makes a speciality of digital privacy violations, helped write the bill.Natan Dvir

“These kids are so vulnerable, and in a time once they’re just spending a lot of their life on a screen and using these latest types of communication with none oversight, any regulation… there’s an imperative to act on their behalf and of their best interests.”

Brooklyn-based victims’ rights attorney Carrie Goldberg — who makes a speciality of digital privacy violations — helped pen the bill after realizing a lot of her cases involved incidents that might have been prevented if such safety measures were already in place.

“When you’re going to be within the business of targeting tech products at minors then there’s bare minimum safety requirements you’re going to have to satisfy,” said Goldberg, whose clients include the parents of kids who died after buying fentanyl-laced pills on Snapchat.

“It’s not different than if you happen to’re making toys or cribs or automotive seats,” she told The Post in a recent interview. “When you’re within the business of providing consumer products to children, you then can’t be designing products which are endangering their lives.” 

A key aspect that sets the brand new bill other than its predecessor is a stipulation requiring tech corporations provide parents with a method to notify them in case of emergencies — a type of 911 for digital crimes.

It’s a provision that might have been crucial to 1 Brooklyn mom, going by the name Maria, whose 11-year-old daughter was the victim of a vicious revenge porn campaign in the course of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. 

Maria, a 33-year-old housekeeper from Guatemala, tried in vain to search out a customer support number for Instagram after learning from her sister that nude photos and videos of her child were being plastered across the app and shared in direct messages to greater than a dozen classmates, relatives and friends.

Brooklyn mom Maria's 11-year-old daughter was the victim of a revenge porn campaign in 2020.Brooklyn mom Maria’s 11-year-old daughter was the victim of a revenge porn campaign in 2020.BRIGITTE STELZER

“My first response was attempting to stop it. Like I used to be panicked, but at the identical time I felt this urge to stop it. But how?” Maria recalled through tears. 

“There was no option for me to contact them, like an actual person… I desired to refer to an actual person and allow them to know that this is occurring… but there was no person.”

The nightmare began after Maria’s daughter met a 17-year-old boy online and bonded with him over their shared love of anime. Soon, he allegedly told her she was his girlfriend and coerced her into sending naked photos and videos of herself and eventually, the passwords to her accounts. 

When the boy, based in Iowa, allegedly demanded 150 naked photos and Maria’s daughter refused, he locked her out and commenced sending her nude images to her friends from her account. 

At that time, the distraught mom’s only option was to report the photographs to Instagram as inappropriate and hope the platform would swiftly take motion, which doesn’t all the time work.

It took Instagram over two weeks to take down pornographic images of Maria's daughter.It took Instagram over two weeks to take down pornographic images of Maria’s daughter.BRIGITTE STELZER

Maria said she also went to a neighborhood NYPD precinct, but that despite the fact that her daughter’s images were considered child pornography, she was told “there’s nothing we could do.”

“One in all the officers said, ‘it’s best to discipline your daughter,’” Maria recalled. “The police couldn’t help me so, who will?… I felt alone on this planet in the midst of the pandemic.” 

It will take one other two and a half weeks for Instagram to take her daughter’s accounts down and that was only after a social employee connected Maria to Goldberg, who had the power to directly contact the corporate, and agreed to take the case up without spending a dime.

However the damage had already been done.

While the boy is now being prosecuted criminally in Iowa, Maria said her daughter has attempted suicide quite a few times and has been out and in of in-patient mental health facilities ever because the ordeal. 

“Our life just isn’t normal,” the mom said as she fought back tears. “We live in tension more often than not, because we never know when she’s gonna go right into a crisis.” 

Other provisions within the bill are requirements that tech corporations expedite warrants and subpoenas pertaining to crimes against children, and provides parents or legal guardians access to their kids’ accounts in the event that they die.

New York mother Kim Devins has been attempting to gain control of accounts belonging to her 17-year-old daughter Bianca who was murdered in 2019.Latest York mother Kim Devins has been attempting to achieve control of accounts belonging to her 17-year-old daughter Bianca who was murdered in 2019.James Keivom for Latest York Post

Bianca's killer Brandon Clark posted photos of the crime on Instagram and Discord.Bianca’s killer Brandon Clark posted photos of the crime on Instagram and Discord.

Upstate mom Kim Devins has been fighting to access her daughter Bianca’s social media pages because the 17-year-old was murdered in July 2019 — and pictures and videos of the crime went viral after killer Brandon Clark posted them on Instagram and Discord. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in March 2021.

Greater than three years later, Devins, 38, still can’t get into her daughter’s accounts, nor does she have the power to make the pages private or control or block vile comments, including by so-called incels who proceed to post that the teenager deserved to die and share links to the murder photos.

Instagram told Devins it could delete the accounts — which the mom didn’t need to do since the pages function virtual memorial spaces. Her only other option was to establish an estate for Bianca, whose Instagram account went from 2,000 followers to over 166,000 after her death.

“Most [deceased] children don’t need an estate, and that takes a variety of time and there’s a value related to that, to rent a lawyer and arrange an estate,” Devins, told The Post.

Instagram refuses to give Devins control of her daughter's account.Instagram refuses to provide Devins control of her daughter’s account.

Devins was told she would need to set up an estate for Bianca in order to have access to the account.Devins was told she would wish to establish an estate for Bianca so as to have access to the account.James Keivom for Latest York Post

“We shouldn’t must waste money and time organising an estate, going to court and fighting for the proper for our minor child’s accounts,” she said, “it’s something parents shouldn’t must take care of after losing a baby, it’s essentially the most horrific thing to undergo in your life.” 

Tech industry groups and activists fought vehemently against the California bill, which was enacted Sept. 15. Critics said it could dramatically reshape the web, reduce free speech and require adults to prove their age before accessing web sites they could only need to visit for a number of minutes, and just once. 

An identical battle is now expected in Latest York.

When the Empire State last took on Big Tech, with a bill to criminalize revenge porn, high-powered lobbyists funded by industry groups scared lawmakers away from voting for it. The laws languished until a series of Post exposés sounded the alarm, and the bill was eventually passed and signed into law by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July 2019.

Goldberg admitted that Gounardes' bill will face fierce opposition from tech industry lobbyists.Goldberg admitted that Gounardes’ bill will face fierce opposition from tech industry lobbyists.Gregory P. Mango

On the time, Goldberg called the law’s enactment the tip of a “six-year gladiator match.” She acquiesced Friday that Gounardes faces an uphill battle against the exact same lobbyists and the hurdle of convincing his colleagues to get on board.

“We’re up for a fight obviously however the face of politics in Latest York State has modified during the last couple of years and our lawmakers are stronger than they ever have been before they usually’re passing laws that helps consumers and victims,” Goldberg said, referencing the kid victims act, the adult survivors act and the extension of the statute of limitations for rape. 

“We’re seeing really progressive laws which were passed despite massive lobbying efforts,” she continued, “and I would love to think that we will withstand the pressures of tech corporations.” 

Gounardes, 37, said he’s “up for the David and Goliath fight,” and Goldberg noted that if California can get it done, so can Latest York.

The state senator has yet to secure a co-sponsor within the Assembly, but when asked, said he “fully expects” to get his colleagues on board, saying, “I suppose my answer must be yes, right?”

“I feel it’s really hard to say that the establishment is appropriate once we know that there are vulnerabilities and there are gaps within the protection of those kids,” Gounardes said.

“We’re not attempting to shut down social media, we’re just attempting to put in place smart, thoughtful and necessary guardrails and I don’t see how or why people could be opposed.”

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