Lawmakers are scrambling to enact new laws to ensure that every child’s data is protected in America. As each generation becomes more dependent on the interconnectivity provided by the internet, keeping our children protected as they utilize the many tools available online has risen to the forefront of many elected leaders’ policy priorities.
However, our state lawmakers should take pause to measure the possible unintended outcomes of any data privacy laws crafted in the Minnesota State House. There are data privacy laws being drafted in several state legislatures, and many of them have differentiating restrictions, penalties and intentions. Take Utah for example, its newest data privacy law restricts the time a child can access their social media, and even allows parents to potentially view their messages. While good intentioned, this is a one size fits all solution for an issue that comes in many different shapes and sizes.
The Utah law assumes that every child lives in a home with supportive parents who would not abuse that invasion of privacy with malicious and predatory intent. As we watch states like Utah and Florida clearly use this legislative issue as a vessel to advance their states’ conservative agendas, I much rather see a federal standard set to protect children’s privacy online as to have not have a patchwork of data privacy laws with Republican undertones across America.
Moreover, our state leadership must acknowledge that the Democratic trifecta in our state is partially due to the activism of Generation Z in communities across Minnesota. Social media has provided a platform for young people to catalyze the change that they hope to see on many pivotal issues such as gun violence, climate change and reproductive rights. The current language of the Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC) could see that collective voice muffled as the next generation of organizers are limited access to the tools that helped them drive voters to the polls in 2022.
Furthermore, many do not realize that YouTube is considered a form of social media. Children often utilize that platform to learn, seek self-help and grow their independent understanding of our ever-evolving society. As the language of the AADC is debated and finalized in our State House, I hope there is consideration of the community support utilized by young people online.
With rising national security concerns surrounding keeping American’s data protected, President Biden has already expressed his objective to protect our children’s data online. Our state has many impactful policy priorities that we must focus on this session to uplift our economy and promote a more equitable justice system. I hope our state lawmakers focus on delivering on the issues that impact Minnesota, and trust and support President Biden as his administration sets a federal data privacy standard to make sure children are uniformly protected online across the United States.
Jasmine Ralph is a content creator and Minneapolis resident.