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Maryland Passes 2 Major Privacy Bills, Despite Tech Industry Pushback

The Maryland Legislature this weekend passed two sweeping privacy bills that aim to restrict how powerful tech platforms can harvest and use the personal data of consumers and young people — despite strong objections from industry trade groups representing giants like Amazon, Google and Meta.

One bill, the Maryland Online Data Privacy Act, would impose wide-ranging restrictions on how companies may collect and use the personal data of consumers in the state. The other, the Maryland Kids Code, would prohibit certain social media, video game and other online platforms from tracking people under 18 and from using manipulative techniques — like auto-playing videos or bombarding children with notifications — to keep young people glued online.

“We are making a statement to the tech industry, and to Marylanders, that we need to rein in some of this data gathering,” said Delegate Sara Love, a Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates. Ms. Love, who sponsored the consumer bill and cosponsored the children’s bill, described the passage of the two measures as a “huge” privacy milestone, adding: “We need to put up some guardrails to protect our consumers.”

The new rules require approval by Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland, a Democrat, who has not taken a public stance on the measures.

With the passage of the bills, Maryland joins a small number of states including California, Connecticut, Texas and Utah that have enacted both comprehensive privacy legislation and children’s online privacy or social media safeguards. But the tech industry has challenged some of the new laws.

Over the last year, NetChoice, a tech industry trade group representing Amazon, Google and Meta, has successfully sued to halt children’s online privacy or social media restrictions in several states, arguing that the laws violated its members’ constitutional rights to freely distribute information.

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