AGs File Social Media Harms Suit, AI Labeling Bill, Lumen Gets California Funds

33 State attorneys general sue Meta for allegedly capitalizing off of young users.

AGs File Social Media Harms Suit, AI Labeling Bill, Lumen Gets California Funds
Sen. John Kennedy R-Louisiana, taken 2013 used with permission

October 25, 2023 – Attorneys general from across the United States have signed onto a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Meta, alleging the social media giant is harming young people’s mental health by maximizing their time on its platforms.

The lawsuit, filed by 42 attorneys general from 33 states in the District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges the tech giant that operates Facebook and Instagram has violated federal and state laws.

The lawsuit alleges Meta’s business model aims to maximize “young users’ time and attention spent on its Social Media Platforms,” while producing harmful features to generate a compulsive use of the platform despite public knowledge of harm inflicted on youth and teens.

The coalition of state attorneys general alleges in the lawsuit that these practices also violate consumer protection statutes including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal data on users under 13 without parental consent.

“Meta relies on Instagram’s and Facebook’s nominal bans on under-13 users to avoid any responsibility under COPPA to its under-13 users and their parents,” the lawsuit alleges.

Concern surrounding the harm associated with children using social media has been raised in the past, with previous proposed legislation aimed at shielding children from harmful content on the internet.

Senators introduce AI labeling legislation

Two senators introduced Tuesday legislation that would require AI-generated audio-visual material to be labeled as such.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, introduced the Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act, requiring such a watermark on images, videos, audio or multi-media content to ensure transparency.

It would also require AI system developers to include disclosures on such content and AI chatbots, developers and third-party licensees to ensure disclosures on published content, and the establishment of a group to generate standards for social media sites to use in labeling AI content.

“Our bill is simple – if any content is made by artificial intelligence, it should be labeled so that people are aware and aren’t fooled or scammed,” said Schatz in a press release.

Kennedy added that “AI is moving quickly, and so are the companies that are developing it. Our bill would set an AI-based standard to protect U.S. consumers by telling them whether what they’re reading, seeing or hearing is the product of AI, and that’s clarity that people desperately need.”

The need for AI legislation has been at the forefront of government conversations, with agencies like the Federal Trade Commission having vocalized their intent to regulate AI.

In September of this year a coalition of Democrats including  Sen. Ed Markey D-Mass, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash issued a letter to President Joe Biden flagging the need for regulatory AI legislation, and pointed to their AI Bill of Rights as a starting point.

Lumen gets $400M for California open-access build

The California Department of Technology announced Wednesday that it awarded telecom Lumen more than $400 million to deploy fiber broadband in California under the Broadband for All Initiative aimed at closing the digital divide.

The investment will be geared toward supporting middle-mile broadband connectivity with an open access model so other providers can ride on the infrastructure, according to a press release.

The project is set to be completed by the end of 2026 and will deliver service to hundreds of communities within the state, added the press release.

“Digital inclusion is critical for the United States to maintain its leading position as a global economic and innovation powerhouse. Bringing high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved locations will accelerate greater and more diverse participation in our education system, the world’s digital economy, and access to high-quality healthcare,” said Lumen CEO Kate Johnson.