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New York latest to approve ban on ‘addictive’ social media algorithms for minors

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New York has two new latest bills to minimize online risks for young people by banning social media platforms from exposing teenagers to “addictive” algorithmic content without parental consent.

The Center Square reports:

The “New York Child Data Protection Act,” approved by the state Legislature, would prohibit Facebook, Snapchat and other social platforms from showing suggested posts to people under 18 unless it comes from accounts they follow, with parental approval.

The “Stop Addictive Feeds Exploration for Kids” or “SAFE” Act, which lawmakers also approved, would block social media platforms from sending notifications about suggested posts to minors between midnight and 6 a.m. without parental consent.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who has vowed to crack down on teen social media use, is expected to sign both bills into law. Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who pushed for the bill, will set the rules determining the user’s age and a mechanism to determine parental consent. The bill would take effect 180 days after those guidelines are finalized.

“This is a very big win for kids and families in New York, and potentially across the country,” James P. Steyer, the group’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Parents and families have had enough of Big Tech’s negligence and profiteering off of the decline in young people’s well-being. Thankfully, New York leaders took bold action. And other states, including California this year, can and should follow their lead.”

Contrary, the industry association NetChoice condemned the legislation, calling it an “assault on free speech and the open internet” that will force social media websites to “censor all content unless visitors provide an ID to verify their age.”

“New York has created a way for the government to track what sites people visit and their online activity by forcing websites to censor all content unless visitors provide an ID to verify their age,” Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “The law will also increase children’s exposure to harmful content by requiring websites to order feeds chronologically, prioritizing recent posts about sensitive topics.”

NetChoice said it has defeated similar “unconstitutional” bills in other states, noting that the judges in those cases “highlighted the serious First Amendment and privacy concerns with this type of legislation.”

“Parents — not politicians — should be making the rules for their families,” Szabo said.

Common Sense Media notes that other states, including Maryland, Vermont and Colorado, recently passed bills or enacted laws “that will protect kids’ data and force social media companies to change the way they operate their platforms.”

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Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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