California Kills AI Bills, But Social Media Restrictions Are Progressing

Tech policy bills that would further regulate social media were introduced last week by the California legislature, although measures that would require more control over artificial intelligence have been killed off for a year.

Legislative activity was part of disputes over more than 1,000 bills that faced a tense hearing process in which the Senate and Assembly budget committees quickly and secretly decided which bills with a significant fiscal impact would be moved and which would not. This year, the challenge was more difficult as lawmakers felt the pressure from California’s tightened $32 billion budget deficit.

Many surviving technology bills were narrowed as a result of intense industry backlash, although full details of the changes were not immediately available. These measures will have to go through the same process again in the opposite chamber around September.

One of the most-watched tech bills to survive has been altered to be more accessible to tech lobbyists. The legislation would try to hold social media platforms accountable for addiction and other harm done to children (SB 287). The agent was killed in acts of suspense last year. This year’s version would allow local and state prosecutors to sue social media and was approved Thursday after the Senate Appropriations Committee narrowed the scope to include children under 16.

The AI ​​bills have not been as successful. This was the case with a measure that would try to put California at the forefront of AI in regulating the business use of this technology (AB 331). The assembly’s Appropriations Committee rejected this bill, which included a private right to action on algorithmic discrimination. A narrower artificial intelligence bill that would only cover oversight of state government bodies (SB 313) was also put on hold.

The AI ​​proposals faced strong opposition from business groups who feared they could stifle innovation in a fast-growing field. The regulatory landscape for this technology is constantly changing, with state agencies set to develop regulations for automation and the federal government looking at creation artificial intelligence agency.

Legislative inaction, however, is likely to open the way for the California Privacy Protection Agency and the California Department of Civil Rights to continue to regulate technology without fear of conflicting new laws.

Big Tech and the Internet

Other Big Tech regulatory measures came close to a vote on the floor, including a bill (SB 60) that would allow state residents to seek a court order to remove harmful content about controlled substances from the social networking site.

An advanced measure that would have banned TikTok for state-issued devices (SB 74), lawmakers removed the requirement to report exceptions such as public coverage or cybersecurity research. The measure follows other states trying to ban TikTok, and would also apply to any other apps that are operated or based in a “country of concern.”

Lawmakers also approved a bill (SB 244) that would allow consumers to repair cell phones and other devices without going to the manufacturer, after a similar attempt last year that died in limbo. The measure introduced by Senator Susan Eggman (D) is part of a broader push by consumer advocates to allow appliances to be repaired by any professional of the consumer’s choice. The legislation continues to face opposition from tech and business groups who say sharing details of their devices undermines intellectual property rights.

A bill that would tighten California’s data broker laws (SB 362) was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee after Senator Josh Becker (D) delayed the implementation date by a year to 2026. The bill would allow consumers to delete all their personal information collected by all registered brokers through a single removal mechanism on the state privacy agency website.

Other industries

Legislators also addressed other technology-related areas. A controversial measure that would do it they require a human driver for self-driving trucks (AB 316) survived a suspended hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The autonomous vehicle industry argues that the requirement would stop the rollout of self-driving trucks and hinder progress, while proponents say it is necessary for road safety.

California lawmakers are grappling with how to regulate facial recognition technology, particularly its use by law enforcement after such a ban expired in January. The direction now seems clear after an attempt to regulate it further (AB 642) was killed on Thursday. A bill that would reintroduce the ban (AB 1034) has already been passed by the California Assembly and awaits action in the Senate.

Proposals to regulate cryptocurrencies have also moved forward. Legislation that would license the industry (AB 39) and place restrictions on cryptocurrency kiosks (SB 401) has been approved with some changes.

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