Last week, the Attorney General for California filed a notice of appeal to overturn a federal court ruling that the state’s Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (“CAADCA”) likely violates the First Amendment. The appeal will put the constitutionality of California’s act before the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Following unanimous votes by the California legislature and signature by the Governor, California enacted the CAADCA in September 2022 as a measure purportedly “aimed at protecting the wellbeing, data, and privacy of children using online platforms.” Industry group NetChoice soon turned to federal court and sought an injunction seeking to prevent the law from being enforced on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment and the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and is preempted by other federal statutes addressing online child safety, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). Last month, the court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of NetChoice, holding that CAADCA likely violates the First Amendment. Specifically, the court reasoned that the law regulates expression by limiting the use and sharing of (personal) information and that California’s justifications did not rise to the level required to regulate expression under the U.S. Constitution.