California Governor Newsom Signs Social Media Transparency Bill

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed a controversial bill that seeks to impose greater transparency on social media companies, sparking a potential battle over whether such moves violate free speech protections.

The law, known as AB 587, will require tech companies to file semi-annual reports with the state attorney general that publicly disclose their content moderation policies regarding hate speech, misinformation and extremism. . The bill was first introduced in 2021, following the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol and amid scrutiny of the role of tech giants in fomenting extremism and racism. violence.

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The California law is one of the most significant policy efforts yet from Democrats and civil rights groups, responding to criticism that tech companies aren’t doing enough to prevent abuse on their platforms. . Newsom’s signature signals that states could play a bigger role in regulating the tech industry, passing bills dealing with content moderation and privacy after congressional inaction.

“California will not sit idly by as social media is armed to spread hate and misinformation that threatens our communities and core values ​​as a country,” Newsom (D) said in a press release.

Still, big tech companies and the trade groups that represent them could take legal action against the California law. They sued to block other social media laws in conservative states such as Florida and Texas that would regulate how social media companies monitor content, in response to allegations that tech companies are silencing conservative views.

Earlier this year, tech industry trade groups took their battle to the Supreme Court, which temporarily blocked the Texas law.

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Although the California law aims to address very different concerns about social media companies, the industry and some legal experts have raised First Amendment-like concerns about the legislation.

Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, wrote in a recent blog post that AB 587 “has censal consequences.”

“The bill is likely to be struck down as unconstitutional at substantial cost to taxpayers,” he wrote.

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