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Maryland: Bill for Maryland Kids Code introduced to the Senate

On March 7, 2024, Senate Bill 571 for the Consumer Protection - Online Products and Services - Data of Children (Maryland Kids Code) received favorable approval by the Senate Finance Committee with amendments. This follows the bill's introduction, on January 15, 2024, to the Maryland State Senate. 

'Children' under the bill are defined as a consumer under the age of 18 years.

Scope

The bill applies to entities that conduct business in Maryland, and:

  • have annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million, adjusted every odd-numbered year to reflect adjustments;
  • annually buy, receive, sell, or share the personal data of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices, alone, or in combination with its affiliates or subsidiaries, for the covered entity's commercial purposes; or
  • derive at least 50% of its annual revenues from the sale of consumers' personal data.

Obligations

The bill provides that children should be afforded protection not only by online products specifically directed at them, but by all online products they are reasonably likely to access. Covered entities that develop and provide online services that children are likely to access must ensure the best interests of children when designing, developing, and providing those online products.

Specifically, covered entities must process children's data in a manner consistent with the best interests of children. Likewise, where there is a conflict of interest between commercial interests and the best interests of children, covered entities that develop online products likely to be accessed by children must give priority to the privacy, safety, and well-being of children over such commercial interests.

Data Protection Impact Assessments

The bill details that a covered entity that provides an online product reasonably likely to be accessed by children must prepare a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). The DPIA should:

  • identity the purpose of the online product;
  • identify how the online product processes children's data; and
  • determine whether the online product is designed in a manner consistent with the best interests of children, taking into consideration whether:
    • the children could be targeted by contacts resulting in physical, financial, emotional, or psychological harm;
    • the processing may permit the children to witness, participate in, or be subject to conduct resulting in physical, financial, emotional, or psychological harm;
    • the processing may permit the children to be party to or exploited by a contact through the online product resulting in physical, financial, emotional, or psychological harm;
    • the online product uses designs to increase, sustain, or extend the use of the online product, including automatic playing or media, and rewards for time spent; and
    • the online product collects or processes sensitive personal data of children.

In addition, the bill stipulates that a covered entity must not use dark patterns to:

  • cause a child to provide personal data beyond what is reasonably expected;
  • circumvent privacy protections; or
  • take any action known or having reason to know is not in the best interests of children.

You can read the bill here and track its progress here.

Update: March 12, 2024

Bill passes second reading

On March 11, 2024, the bill passed its second reading with amendments.

You can read the bill here, the amendments here, and track its progress here.

Update: March 15, 2024

Bill passes third reading

On March 14, 2024, the bill passed its third reading in the Senate. 

You can read the bill here and track its progress here.

Update: March 26, 2024

Bill referred to Committee on Economic Matters

On March 15, 2024, the bill was referred to the Committee on Economic Matters.

You can read the bill here and track its progress here.

Update: April 8, 2024

Bill passed by Senate

On April 6, 2024, the bill was passed by the Senate and sent to the Governor for signing, following the passing of its third reading with amendments in the House of Representatives on April 4, 2024.

You can read the bill here and track its progress here.

Update: May 10, 2024

Bill signed by Governor

On May 9, 2024, the bill was signed by the Governor and shall take effect on October 1, 2024.

You can read the bill here and view its legislative history here.