On August 30, one day before the close of the legislative session, the California State Assembly voted unanimously to approve AB 2273 – the California Age Appropriate Design Code Act (AADCA). The Bill now heads to Governor Newsom for signature.
The AADCA imposes obligations on providers of online services “likely to be accessed by children” and defines children as consumers under 18 years of age. This includes websites that are specifically targeted to children, websites whose audience is made up of a large number of children based on internal research or other reliable evidence, and websites with design elements or advertising likely to appeal to children.
For context, the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) defines children as anyone under the age of 13 and imposes requirements on online services directed towards children or that have actual knowledge a child is using the site. The AADCA, thus, broadens the universe of applicable data subjects and covered entities that must afford privacy protections to minors using the internet.
“Likely to be accessed by children”
As mentioned, the AADCA applies to websites that are “likely to be accessed by children” and delineates some criteria to consider in determining whether a site is targeting children. The AADCA applies to “online service[s], product[s], or feature[s]” – which in itself is broader than simply a website or application. Further, it delineates considerations for these services, products or features to determine whether they are “likely to be accessed by children.” These considerations are:
- Whether it is deemed to be targeted to children under COPPA;
- Whether it is accessed by children;
- Whether it has features, products or advertisements marketed to children;
- Whether it has design elements that are known to be of interest to children, such as games, cartoons, music or celebrities; or
- Whether a significant section of the audience is determined to be made up of children.
Given the fact that the AADCA defines a “child” as someone under the age of 18, and the broad applicability of the elements to consider in determining whether a site is “likely to be accessed by children,” it is very likely that the AADCA could apply to all social media platforms, online entertainment and media services and platforms, music-sharing platforms, photo-sharing sites, video game services, other content platforms, and even retail and consumer product platforms.