Major Organizations and Community Leaders Applaud Passage of Legislation to Protect Children Online

Unions, community groups, and advocates praise legislation advanced by AG James that will limit social media features harmful to teen mental health, prevent collection of children’s personal data

New York – After two bills that will help protect children online and which were advanced by New York Attorney General James, sponsored by Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Rozic, and supported by Governor Hochul passed in the State Legislature, prominent unions, community groups, and advocates issued statements of support for the legislation. The bills, when signed into law, will help protect children by prohibiting online sites from collecting and sharing their personal data and limiting addictive features of social media platforms that are known to harm their mental health and development.

“I am proud to stand with Attorney General Letitia James and our legislative sponsors in passing the 'Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act' and the Child Data Privacy Act,” said Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Chairwoman of the New York State Black Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus. “These landmark laws affirm our unwavering commitment to protecting and supporting our children, especially those in marginalized communities. We will continue to implement stronger technology protections against addictive content and ensure a safer digital future for our children.”

“The legislation that was announced here by Governor Hochul, Attorney General James, Senator Gounardes, and Assemblymember Rozic in October 2023, are set to become law, and our children will be safer as a result,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. “Bottom line: this legislation will help protect our students. As educators, we know the impact social media can have on our students' emotional health and well-being. Hopefully, other states will follow New York's lead.”

“Educators see the harmful effects of social media on our kids every day, and this legislation is a tremendous first step toward ensuring these influences remain in their proper places,” said New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) President Melinda Person. “We are grateful to the Legislature, the Attorney General and the governor for championing the mental health of our students as they navigate our rapidly changing world online. These platforms have potential to enhance teaching, learning and connectivity in our classrooms, but should never risk our children’s health or safety. New York can lead the nation in creating protections for the mental and physical wellness of the future generation, and this is just the beginning.”

“Hats off to New York's leaders who have made the safety and well-being of children and teens online a top priority,” said James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, the leading organization in the coalition to protect New York kids online. “From the start, Attorney General James, along with the Governor and their allies in the legislature, put together carefully crafted legislation that gets at the heart of what harms kids and their families online -- the dangerous algorithms and constant notifications and the vacuuming up of kids' data that is all used to make more money for social media companies. Once these bills are implemented, that will change for kids and teens in New York. Instead, kids' data will be more secure, and the social media experience for young users will be healthier. That's really important. We are proud to have played a key role in this campaign, and we are deeply grateful to the Attorney General and other state leaders who got this done.”

“We are grateful that New York has taken the lead in keeping children safer from the harms of social media,” said Kathleen Spence, Middle School Teacher, Mother of Alexis Spence. “We appreciate that these bipartisan bills were passed so swiftly by Attorney General James, Governor Hochul, Senator Andrew Gounardes, and Assemblymember Rozic. Although both of our children are older now, we feel reassured knowing these laws are in place to protect students and future generations.”

“The historic passage of the New York Child Data Protection Act sets a precedent across the nation to safeguard the data of children under the age of eighteen from online entities seeking to collect, sell, or utilize such information for their own purposes,” said Robert S. Schneider, Executive Director, New York State School Boards Association. “School boards share parents’ and guardians’ concerns about online data safeguarding and thank Attorney General James and all stakeholders for the advancement and now enforcement of this law’s intent to protect the online privacy of children and adolescents.”

“In an era where children's lives are deeply embedded in the digital world, it becomes even more crucial to prioritize their safety and mental wellness”, said Luisa Lopez, Executive Director of the Latino Social Work Coalition & Scholarship Fund, Inc. “We celebrate the passage of these bills, which will equip parents with the necessary tools to protect children from predatory practices affecting their mental health. They ensure that online privacy is the default for New York’s children, preventing companies from collecting and using their data. We extend our gratitude to Assembly sponsor Nily Rozic, Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, and our partners in the Senate for their dedicated efforts to make online spaces safer for kids.”

“We know the harm that addictive social media practices can have, especially on our most vulnerable populations,” said Rose Pierre-Louis, Executive Director of the McSilver Institute. “These common-sense reforms will help make New York a leader in addressing the crisis among our young people, particularly girls and youth in communities of color. The efforts by community activists and researchers to bring these issues to the forefront of public attention have been essential to supporting elected officials like State Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Rozic in their work to hold social media companies accountable. Thanks to Attorney General James and Governor Hochul for publicly supporting these efforts to show that New York State stands united in protecting our young people from harmful social media practices.”

“As the nation’s only pan-Asian children and families’ advocacy organization, CACF has had an inside look at the current mental health crisis affecting our children and teens,” said Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Directors of the Coalition of Asian American Children and Families (CACF). “Asian American girls are particularly vulnerable, with studies showing that they are both more likely to experience symptoms of depression and less likely to seek help from a school counselor. CACF congratulates Governor Hochul, Attorney General James, Senator Gounardes, and Assemblymember Nily Rozic for the passing of critical legislation that would protect the mental health of our young people and ensure that their personal data is safeguarded. The addictive nature of social media apps along with the lack of age-appropriate internet safeguards often create a perfect storm when it comes to anxiety, depression, body image, and mental health.”

“We have unfortunately seen too many instances of families falling apart due to minors' addictive social media habits,” said Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Director of New York Government Relations for Agudath Israel of America. “It is critical to protect minors from these destructive influences. We thank Governor Hochul, Attorney General James, Senator Gounardes, and Assemblymember Rozic for getting this important legislation passed.”

“Given the increased rates of poor mental health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm related to social media, EPIC – Every Person Influences Children has been proud to support efforts to improve safeguards for children and youth,” said Tara N. Burgess, Executive Director & CEO of EPIC – Every Person Influences Children. “I commend Attorney General Letitia James and our partners in government for holding social media platforms accountable to restrict youth data collection and reduce addictive content distribution. This legislation will give families tools to protect their children in an ever-changing technology and social media landscape.”

“This important legislation enacted by Governor Hochul and Attorney General James, is a significant victory for one of our most vulnerable populations - our children,” said Mendy Mirocznik, President of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island. “The legislation empowers parents and legal guardians to safeguard our children from the dangers of internet platforms. We applaud Governor Hochul, Attorney General James, and the coalition of legislators from across the political spectrum, for creating a much-needed safety net for the youth of our state.”

“We applaud Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, Senator Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Nily Rozic, Speaker Carl Heastie, and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for passing this crucial legislation,” said Avi Greenstein, Executive Director of Boro Park Jewish Community Council. “Numerous studies and real-life examples demonstrate how damaging social media can be for children. This legislation is a much-needed step. This will help protect the greatest asset we have, our children.”

“The passage of this groundbreaking legislation is a major victory for the movement of parents and other concerned adults fighting back against the epidemic of media addiction among our children,” said Julie Scelfo, founder and executive director of MAMA. “By addressing social media platforms’ addictive algorithms and predatory data collection, these bills help give our children back the childhood they deserve. We are grateful to Attorney General James, Governor Hochul, Senator Gounardes, and Assemblymember Rozic for their stewardship throughout the process and for providing a legislative model for other states to address social media’s impact on young people.”

“During our Long Island roundtable with Attorney General Letitia James, we listened to firsthand stories about the harmful impact social media has on our minors,” said Nadia Holubnyczyj-Ortiz, Parent/Community Advocate. “Thank you to Governor Hochul, Attorney General James, Senator Gounardes, and Assemblymember Rozic for this essential legislation.”