Science, Technology, and Social Media

Federal Court Blocks California’s Big Tech Crackdown, Citing Free Speech Concerns

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California temporarily blocked the state’s California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (CAADCA) because it “likely violates the First Amendment,” according to a court filing.

The law is purportedly designed to protect children online by regulating data collection on platforms, but it likely would threaten free speech, according to the preliminary injunction. The court sided with NetChoice, a group whose members include companies like Google and TikTok, that the law would lead to government-influenced censorship.

The CAADCA forces companies to adhere to their own content moderation rules, according to the filing.

“Although the State argues that the policy enforcement provision does not regulate speech because businesses are free to create their own policies, it appears to the Court that NetChoice’s position that the State has no right to enforce obligations that would essentially press private companies into service as government censors, thus violating the First Amendment by proxy, is better grounded in the relevant binding and persuasive precedent,” it states.

Because the law would require companies to report to the government regarding controlling the spread of speech, it prompts “First Amendment scrutiny,” according to the filing.

“We appreciate the district court’s thoughtful analysis of the First Amendment and decision to prevent regulators from violating the free speech and online privacy rights of Californians, their families and their businesses as our case proceeds,” NetChoice Litigation Center Director Chris Marchese Chris Marchese stated. “We look forward to seeing the law permanently struck down and online speech and privacy fully protected.”

Billionaire Elon Musk’s X Corp. recently sued to block California’s Assembly Bill 587, which mandates social media companies to publish their content moderation policies and how they enforce them, according to court documents. The company alleges it violates the First Amendment and coerces censorship.

NetChoice and California’s attorney general’s press office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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