Vermont Kids Code Coalition Statement on Governor Scott’s Veto of H.121



MONTPELIER – The Vermont Kids Code Coalition issued the following statement after Governor Phil Scott vetoed H.121, Vermont’s data privacy and Kids Code bill:

“We are deeply disappointed by Governor Scott’s decision, which fails to account for months of hard work by legislators, community members and AG Clark to ensure the Kids Code is constitutionally sound and meets the needs of Vermont families and communities. After months of working closely with legal, medical, and technology experts we are confident that legislators understand and appreciate the urgent need for sound legislation that protects children and teens by design and default and spurs innovation to put such protections in place.

“The Vermont Kids Code legislation differs from California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code and was delicately crafted to ensure constitutional compliance. Furthermore, leading legal experts including Attorneys General from 19 states have rejected the NetChoice lawsuit Governor Scott referenced in his veto, saying: ‘The court’s overbroad—and mistaken—application of general free-speech principles to California AADC disregarded California’s sovereign prerogative to protect the health of its children.’ Vermont too has a sovereign right to protect our kids, and stand up to disingenuous claims by Big Tech.

“Parents and families know time is precious and our kids can’t wait any longer for these much-needed protections. We are confident that sound policy and local voices will win the day and the Legislature will override this veto.”

Big Tech Lobbying in Vermont

Vermont, like other states pursuing kids’ online safety and data privacy bills, has seen an influx of tech lobbying over the past several years.

  • Major tech companies significantly ramped up their lobbying efforts to oppose the Vermont Kids Code, underscoring Big Tech’s substantial and growing influence in state politics.
  • Anti-Kids-Code lobbyists in Vermont and other states have been accused of not fully disclosing their affiliations and misrepresenting their positions during public hearings, undermining the legislative process.  
  • Anti-Kids-Code tech companies are known to employ indirect methods, such as funding local think tanks, community groups, businesses, and former state officials to influence policy outcomes.  

Community Support for the Kids Code

Vermont has seen a groundswell of community support for the Kids Code and data privacy.

  • Last week, parents, kids, small business leaders, and advocates for Big Tech accountability joined forces outside Burlington City Hall to call on Governor Phil Scott to sign H.121.
  • Last month, dozens of Vermont parents and families sent a letter to Governor Scott requesting a meeting to discuss the urgent need for action on the Kids Code to protect young people’s safety and privacy online, and calling on him to resist out-of-state industry pressure to veto H.121.
  • In addition, more than a dozen organizations – including the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, business leaders Front Porch Forum, and youth-led advocacy group Design It For Us – sent a letter to the Governor in support of the bill and its Kids Code provisions.

About the Vermont Kids Code

Vermont’s Kids Code is consumer protection legislation that would require online products reasonably likely to be accessed by children under 18 to be age-appropriate, institute privacy by design and default, and be designed with kids’ best interests.

  • Rates of youth depression, anxiety, eating disorders and drug overdoses are skyrocketing as kids and teens spend more and more time online.  
  • The Kids Code was introduced in Vermont following a comprehensive bipartisan legal challenge to social media’s impact on the health and well-being of children made by 41 states, including Vermont, against Meta, the company that owns Instagram and Facebook.
  • The Kids Code would address exploitative practices outlined by Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark in that lawsuit, including the use of extortive privacy practices and addictive features such as infinite scroll and autoplay.