FSC's Boden Testifies Against Calif. AV Bill; It Passes Committee

SACRAMENTO—Free Speech Coalition (FSC) executive director Alison Boden testified against Assembly Bill (AB) 3080, an age-verification bill introduced in the California Assembly, during a hearing Tuesday before the Assembly’s Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, the FSC annouced Wednesday in a blog post. Despite widespread opposition from groups including FSC, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Woodhull Action Fund, NetChoice and an array of sex ed, LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights advocates, a motion to advance the bill succeeded.

AB 3080 would require sites with more than one-third “material harmful to minors” to scan government IDs or otherwise verify the identity of the user. The bill, introduced by Modesto Asm. Juan Alanis (R), was originally drafted by the socially conservative Citizens for Renewing America and supported by religious groups including the California Catholic Conference and California Baptists for Biblical Values.

In Boden's testimony before the committee, she explained the multitude of technological, constitutional and privacy-related issues inherent in online age-verification. Still, proponents of the bill came out in force, including the Age Verification Providers Association, Exodus Cry and Concerned Women for America, who all testified in favor. The bill passed out of committee and will next be heard by the Judiciary Committee.

“This is a terribly flawed bill that never should have advanced out of committee, especially not one focused on consumer privacy,” Boden said. “If we’re going to defeat these dangerous, unconstitutional bills, we’re going to need to be there to make sure all of our voices are heard. We have a strong base in this state, and we need all Californians to reach out to their legislators to let them know the issues with AB 3080.”

Those who want to speak out against age-verification in California can do so here.