Introduced in January, Washington State House Bill 2032 addresses vulnerable children who are featured in vlogs and other kinds of online content.
Put forward by Washington State Representative Emily Wicks and Seattle teenager Chris McCarty, House Bill 2032 proposes to set aside money for children who are featured in videos before they are of age. Additionally, the bill would give the minors in question the right upon reaching the legal majority to request the deletion of content featuring them.
The proposed bill found that social media influencers can make significant amounts of money from content featuring young children or showcasing insight into a family’s life. Currently, there is no law in place to ensure that these children being featured receive financial compensation.
If put into law, vloggers would have to set aside some of the money they make from the appearance of minors on their channels, to be given to the minors in question later.
This bill could impact future minors in very real ways.
Take, for example, the case of Huxley, a five-year-old child with autism who was adopted from China in 2017 by YouTubers Myka and James Stauffer. Huxley was featured in much of their vlogging content, only to be rehomed when the couple realized they were not prepared to support Huxley’s needs.
Much of Huxley’s personal life was put on the internet.
While Huxley was responsible for much of the Stauffer’s fame and income, as a minor he was neither compensated nor able to consent to appear on the Stauffer’s YouTube channel. This bill could give minors who are in similar situations in the future some protection.
Vlogging is entirely separate from child acting, where children have determined rights. Children featured on vlogs are not playing a part when they are in vlogs, nor do they currently have legal protection.
The right to request deletion of content featuring them is similar to the right to be forgotten, a concept introduced by a 2014 EU Court of Justice ruling which details the right of internet users to request the deletion of their personal data from corporations
This bill is unique in that Chris McCarty, who is currently a teenager, helped propose it. McCarty became interested in the subject after they researched it for the Girl Scout Gold Award, and then cold emailed lawmakers about it.
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