New Maryland Law Aims to Protect Children Online

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Maryland lawmakers have taken a significant step towards safeguarding children's online privacy by passing the "Maryland Kids Code" in the House on March 20th. 

The legislation, officially known as Senate Bill 571, targets big tech companies and seeks to protect minors from online risks associated with personalized ads, data collection, and a lack of privacy settings for kids and teens. 

Maryland joins several other states, including California, Utah, Arkansas, and Ohio, in passing regulations around tech giants and social media companies. 

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Here are some primary goals the Maryland Kids Code aims to address:

Limit personalized ads

Under SB571, companies would be prohibited from profiling children to serve personalized ads. This measure aims to reduce the exposure of minors to potentially harmful or inappropriate content. 

The Kids Code website calls out banner ads in downloadable apps specifically for displaying adult content in these ads on free apps. 

Restrict unnecessary location tracking

Companies will be barred from tracking children's locations in real-time, with exceptions only for instances where location tracking is necessary, such as in navigation apps.

Establish default privacy settings for all users

Companies that offer online products with user accounts will need to enable the highest privacy settings by default. Users can adjust these settings based on their preferences, but this measure ensures that children's privacy is prioritized.

More regulation of digital products

The Maryland Kids Code applies to companies that create online products "that kids likely use." This includes tech and social media giants such as Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta. These companies must consider children's best interests when designing products for them.

Protect against data exploitation

The legislation aims to prevent companies from exploiting children's data for targeted ads or behavior manipulation. It sets clear guidelines for how companies can collect, use, and store data related to minors.

While the Maryland Kids Code has been praised for its efforts to protect children online, it has also faced criticism and legal challenges.

Critics argue that the law could infringe on First Amendment rights and have questioned its effectiveness in combating the most serious online dangers faced by children.

In response to these concerns, some groups have suggested alternative approaches, such as investing more in enforcement against child abuse and providing education campaigns to educate children about using the internet and social media safely.

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Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.

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