Cunningham bill designed to protect children online signed into law
Bill will require websites and social media companies to obtain direct parental consent before starting an account
–This week, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) announced his bill to protect children online was signed into law. AB 891, starting on Jan. 1, 2022, will require websites and social media companies to obtain direct parental consent in order for a minor to open an account.
Under California law, contracts are not legally enforceable against children. In addition, one person – especially a child on behalf of their parents – cannot lawfully enter into a contract on behalf of someone else. Despite this, some websites have allowed minors to agree to terms and conditions on behalf of their parents.
“Assumed consent simply is not express parental consent,” said Cunningham. “Social media companies should not be able to allow children to open an account or sell a child’s data based on an assumed consent from the parents.”
AB 891, in its entirety, reads: “A representation by a minor that the minor’s parent or legal guardian has consented shall not be considered to be consent for purposes of this chapter.”
“If a parental permission slip for school didn’t ask for a parent’s signature, but instead asked for the child’s signature saying they had asked their parents’ permission, everyone would recognize the absurdity. But that is exactly what Facebook did, and what lots of other companies are still doing,” said Ed Howard, Senior Counsel of the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, the sponsor of the bill. “AB 891 ensures that such shameful efforts to circumvent parenting will never be enforceable in court.”