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Testimony in opposition to California SB 1018

Testimony on SB 1018

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Amy Bos and I am the Director of State & Federal Affairs for NetChoice. NetChoice is a trade association dedicated to free enterprise and free expression online. Our members include Google, Twitter, Etsy, Ebay, and many others.

I want to start off by saying we understand the intent behind the legislation and the need to bring about greater transparency in content moderation decisions. However, we are not convinced this is the right way to solve the problems that the sponsors are trying to address.

First, we are concerned that the disclosure requirements in SB 1018 would empower bad actors by giving them detailed information about how platforms are screening and how automated systems identify and remove harmful content. Doing so would essentially give child predators and scammers a roadmap to get around these efforts and make adjustments to ensure they don’t get caught. When similar disclosure requirements were included in Florida’s social media bill, signed into law last year by Governor DeSantis, we heard directly from child protection groups saying that it would make it harder to protect children from bad actors.

There is a lot to unpack in limited time but I do want to mention that Netchoice commissioned a CA law firm to put together a legal brief for arguing that SB 1018 raises serious constitutional concerns. Not just the U.S. constitution but the California Constitution. The brief states that the disclosure requirements, which would include sensitive information and intellectual property, would create an infringement upon their privacy rights in violation of the California Constitution. I’d be happy to share the brief with the Committee.

Finally, in addition to these constitutional concerns, SB 1018 is vulnerable to a challenge in court due to vagueness and the excessive fines included in the legislation.

SB 1018 would impose a fine of up to $100,000 subject per violation. These fines are substantial compared to the harm addressed by the bill, especially given the fact that the fines are for each violation. Additionally, The legislation fails to  provide any opportunity for pre-compliance judicial review before they suffer penalties imposed by the bill.

For these reasons we urge you not to advance SB 1018. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of my remarks.