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Minnesota House OKs consumer protection, social media bill

(The Center Square) – The Minnesota House passed a bill seeking consumer protections for Minnesotans and minors on social media.

Lawmakers approved the bill on a vote of 70-61.

“Our state government has a responsibility to protect people and create a fairer, safer Minnesota for all,” Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, said in a statement. “That means working to increase access to affordable healthcare, ensuring consumers are protected, and other policies lifting up working families.”

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, House File 4077/Senate File 4097 will require media platforms to let users pick what content they want to see.

The bill aims to require platforms to limit new account interactions to reduce so-called “burner” accounts that have a disproportionate impact on social media and aren’t even necessarily human.

Other requirements would require strict default privacy settings and prohibit user-generated content from being “scraped” and used by generative artificial intelligence without a user’s consent.

The bill aims to require platforms to allow users to opt into what it calls “heightened” protections to avoid features designed to keep users on social media such as infinite scroll, video auto-play, and visual representation of likes and comments on user-generated content.

Profiles with parental controls enabled would automatically be opted into heightened protections under the proposed bill. 

A transparency requirement would force platforms to post information about how their algorithms operate, how they enact bill requirements, user product experiments, and other relevant data on platform use.

Much of the bill draws from legislative recommendations in the Minnesota Attorney General’s February 2024 report.

Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, R-R-Sartell, welcomed “noncontroversial” provisions to “protect our children and others who are vulnerable.”

He said a conference of lawmakers in the House and Senate should also add protections for contractor home builders.

Other consumer protection changes remove outdated language requiring dangerous chemicals in items such as tents and sleeping bags.

This bill requires health plans providing coverage for physical or mental health services to provide coverage for gender-affirming care. The bill aims to require that health plans consider gender-affirming care as medically necessary as long as it meets professional standards, guidelines, or medical practices.

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