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Maryland lawmakers reintroduce 'Kids Code' bill for online safety

Proposed legislation would make online technology safer for young users
Proposed legislation would make online technology safer for young users 02:05

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland State Sen. Ben Kramer, Del. Jared Solomon, and Del. C.T. Wilson have announced their reintroduction of the Maryland Kids Code. 

The proposed legislation would make online technology safer for young people by preventing online platforms from collecting their data and using it to manipulate them into staying on the app for longer—or targeting them with potentially harmful content. One Maryland father told WJZ he wishes the bill had been in place years ago. 

Todd Minor experienced any parent's worst nightmare in March of 2019. 

"I was breathing into him, trying to resuscitate him, and the whole time I was thinking to God, 'Why is this happening?'" Minor said.

Minor's 12-year-old son, Matthew, died from choking via a 'blackout' challenge on YouTube and TikTok.

"At the tribute, a lot of the kids were telling us that they knew about these online challenges on social media, and they said they were getting bombarded with this information, like, they couldn't turn it off," Minor said.

Even though Minor set limitations and monitored his son's internet use, Matthew and his friends were targeted by this harmful content.

"A lot of these companies use sort of—they're called dark algorithms, or they use data to, you know, push something in front of you that you might not want to see," Solomon said.

He said the Maryland Kids Code bill would protect children and teenagers from these predatory practices by establishing requirements for tech companies.

"Our hope would be that they wouldn't be manipulated towards content," Solomon said.

The Kids Code would require privacy by design and default.

"They can't geolocate and track a young person," Solomon said. "They can't collect their data and then sell it. They can't allow anonymous adults to contact minors on their platform."

It would also require online products and services reasonably likely to be accessed by children and teens to be age-appropriate and designed in the best interest of children.

"Essentially, look at their products or their platforms through a lens of the potential harm that they could do to kids and to young people, and when they've discovered potential harms, making sure that they fix them," said Solomon.

It's exactly what minor has been fighting for since he lost his son. He started the Matthew E. Minor foundation to raise awareness of the hidden dangers online. (link: )

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