Maryland lawmakers endorse ban to stop big tech companies from tracking children’s data

Maryland Kids Code would ban technology companies from tracking minors' activity online and then using the data to push targeted ads or manipulate their online behavior for profit.

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Lawmakers in Maryland endorsed a new legislation that aims to strengthen children’s online security. The legislation called the Maryland Kids Code would ban technology companies from tracking minors’ activity online and then using the data to push targeted ads or manipulate their online behavior for profit.

The legislation would make Maryland the second state in the nation to further protect minors online if passed.

“We’re not going to be threatened or intimidated by Big Tech,” Sen. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery), a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said.

The House bill, which was sponsored by Dels. Jared Solomon (D-Montgomery), C.T. Wilson (D-Charles) and Sara Love (D-Montgomery,) passed unanimously last week, while the state Senate unanimously passed similar legislation sponsored by Kramer along with Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard) and Sen. Chris West (R-Baltimore County) that same day.

While federal policies governing data privacy are already in place ,such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which limits companies from collecting data from minors, states such as Maryland are trying to pass legislation that “requires tech companies to consider the risks their products pose to children or teenagers,” The Tech Oversight Project said in a press release.

“But the fact is Big Tech is the pervert at our children’s window,” Kramer said.

State legislation would add their own protections to a group of federal policies. But Maryland’s legislation is said to be up against a legal test over the First Amendment. While industry groups have plans to file lawsuits, Maryland lawmakers vow they will not back down.

“No Maryland parent would stand idly by as a predator peered through their child’s bedroom window or followed their kid to the park or mall after school,” Kramer said to a state Senate committee.

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