Today, TechFreedom filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to affirm the district court’s decision blocking enforcement of California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code. The AADC is a complicated “child protection” law that in fact operates like a zoning regulation, building code, and safety manual for the Internet. TechFreedom’s brief challenges the law’s requirement that businesses either deploy age verification (which the law misleadingly calls “age estimation”) or child-proof their websites.

“By eroding online anonymity, age verification chills free speech and free association,” said Corbin K. Barthold, Director of Appellate Litigation at TechFreedom. “Age verification—or age ‘estimation,’ which amounts to the same thing—requires identifying information, such as a user’s government-issued ID or a biometric scan of a user’s face. Simply put, California is pressuring users to submit to invasive data collection.”

“Internet users are increasingly aware of the risks that come with sharing information online,” Barthold continued. “A wide range of experts, politicians, and public intellectuals are sounding the alarm. Some warn that digital surveillance will promote corporate power and destroy personal privacy. Others fear that digital surveillance will promote the monitoring of ‘social credit’ and enable political oppression. Users who hear these messages will think twice before visiting, reading, or speaking at a website that requires age verification.”

“California is not defending privacy, it is attacking it,” Barthold concluded. “‘Protect the children!’ Internet laws may be good politics, but they’re a disaster for the children they’re supposed to serve. The state should reconsider its approach.”

The case is Bonta v. NetChoice, LLC, No. 23-2969 (9th Cir.).


Find this brief and release on our website, and share it on Twitter, Bluesky, Mastodon, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We can be reached for comment at Read our related work, including:

About TechFreedom:

TechFreedom is a nonprofit, nonpartisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.