Computer & Communication Industry Association
PublishedApril 30, 2024

Colorado Legislature Considers Bill To Protect Children That Raises Privacy Concerns

Washington – The Computer & Communications Industry Association opposes Colorado tech bill SB 158, arguing that its provisions requiring social media platforms to conduct age verification puts children at risk online. The bill also violates the First Amendment by compelling the speech of private online businesses as it requires the disclosure of certain content moderation practices, including automated and human review. 

SB 158 proposes to hold social media companies accountable if they fail to conduct age verification, while also mandating that they discard user identifying data after verification. However, this dual requirement could pose challenges as it leaves companies without a way to demonstrate that they have complied with the law. The bill’s requirement for age verification may clash with standard privacy practices, potentially causing businesses the conundrum of complying with conflicting state laws while unintentionally violating others. 

Furthermore, SB 158’s requirements for age verification present concerns regarding open access to information online by creating impediments to access. Some users prefer to participate in online communities in an anonymous fashion, and providing additional information associated with age verification could prevent those users from continuing to do so. This raises concerns, in particular, for individuals in marginalized communities who do not want to submit sensitive personal information. 

Colorado is pursuing another measure, SB 41, which could serve as a promising framework to provide meaningful protections for younger users without posing additional privacy and First Amendment-related concerns.

The following may be attributed to CCIA State Policy Director Khara Boender:

““We share the goal of better protecting children online, but legislation like this raises First Amendment and privacy concerns. Requiring sensitive information to be collected about children, including their geolocation, undermines the goal of protecting children by limiting the collection of data about them. Despite its good intentions, the bill would actually put children’s information at risk. We respectfully ask Colorado lawmakers to carefully consider the negative implications of this bill.”