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Senator Henry Stern. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

New Reporting Required for ‘Platform Companies’ Under SB 480

Internet companies to report quantified statistics on how much content is being reviewed, how much content is targeted for removal

By Chris Micheli, March 12, 2021 7:10 am

On March 10, State Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) amended his Senate Bill 480 dealing with platform companies and content management. This bill would require a platform company to report annually to the Department of Justice by April 1 of each year prescribed information relating to content management and the negative externalities associated with the platform company’s business activities. The bill would require the platform company to also report that information to the Legislature and the agency.

SB 480 would add Section 1798.138 to the Civil Code.

Section One of the bill would state the Legislature’s intent for major social media platforms to account for, and mitigate, negative externalities from their business activities on the public health, democratic security, mental health, violence, extremism, and other impacts on the people of California.

Section Two of the bill would add Civil Code Section 1798.138 and would define the term “platform” (any internet website or digital networking service or account that provides for exchange of information). A platform company that has 25 million or more unique monthly visitors or users must report to the Department of Justice by April 1, 2022 and each year thereafter the following information:

  • The amount of money, labor hours, and other efforts expended to prevent, mitigate the effects of, and remove potentially harmful content.
  • Any internal accounting of the negative externalities associated with the platform company’s business activities.
  • Quantified statistics on how much content is being reviewed, how much content is targeted for removal, and how much content is actually removed due to breach of terms-of-service agreement issues or other issues.
  • The categories the platform places content into that the platform targets for removal and the corresponding number of postings that fall into each category.

In addition, a platform company would be required to report the information required above to the Legislature and the California Privacy Protection Agency. The bill will likely be heard in April in its first policy committee.

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3 thoughts on “New Reporting Required for ‘Platform Companies’ Under SB 480

  1. This whole thing sounds vague as hell, meaning that it’s perfect for eventual selective and harassing enforcement against websites – this one perhaps? – that might be viewed with disfavour by powerful entities. It says “Social Media,” but it really means political websites.

    And what does “Any internal accounting of the negative externalities associated with the platform company’s business activities” actually mean? It’s gobbledygook!

    This is just an unnecessary layer of bureaucratic intrusion which only serves to make it that much harder to start , maintain and grow any sort of website. It’s simply a bad and poorly conceived law with the potential for a vast negative impact, both near and long term.

    Just a thought.

    VicB3

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