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Free Expression

CDT’s Aliya Bhatia Testifies Before Colorado Senate Committee Raising Equity, Free Speech and Privacy Concerns with Mandating Use of Age Verification Tech

The Center for Democracy & Technology has been tracking federal and state legislation to protect children online to ensure the free expression and privacy rights of all children and other internet users are preserved in efforts to protect a few. 

Colorado’s Social Media Protect Juveniles Disclosures Reports (SB 24-158) is one of such bills which, while well-meaning, raises significant concerns. By requiring social media services to verify the ages of all users before they can access information online, retain data and metadata on user’s identities and online activities for one year, and provide this data to law enforcement upon request, SB 24-158 risks jeopardizing all user privacy rights and ability to access information anonymously. Other requirements mandate the use of parental control tools for users under 18, including older teenagers who have a reasonable need to access information privately, and strongly incentivize the use of content filtering technologies.

Aliya Bhatia, policy analyst for CDT’s Free Expression Project, testified in front of Colorado’s Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee on Tuesday, March 19th to raise equity, free expression, and privacy concerns with the bill’s requirement to use “commercially reasonable methods to verify” age. She argued that these methods have gaps, are often error-prone, and impede user’s ability to access sensitive information about Alcoholics Anonymous, LGBTQ+ identity, and reproductive anonymously, putting users and particularly marginalized children at risk.

Read the written testimony here.