California legislation targets doctors, websites sharing COVID-19 misinformation

California legislation targets doctors, websites sharing COVID-19 misinformation

February 16, 2022 0 By Madison Hirneisen

California lawmakers introduced two bills on Tuesday, hoping to crack down on COVID-19 misinformation spread by websites and doctors. 

Assembly Bill 2098, introduced Tuesday by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, would label the spread of COVID-19 misinformation by doctors as “unprofessional conduct.” Under the law, the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board could bring disciplinary action against certified physicians or surgeons for spreading inaccurate information about the virus.

“Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore must be held to account,” Low said in a statement on Tuesday. “The spreading of misinformation, of inaccurate COVID-19 information, contradicts that responsibility and threatens to further erode the public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk.”

Another piece of legislation introduced Tuesday, Senate Bill 1018, also aims to address the spread of misinformation by requiring websites to publicly report how their algorithms work and share that data with researchers. 

SB 1018 was introduced by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who said Tuesday that his bill would increase website transparency and aims to address “the amplification of misinformation and disinformation on online platforms.” 

“Transparency will allow the public to make informed decisions, and lawmakers and researchers need this necessary information so we can hold online platforms accountable and also set standards,” Pan said in a statement.

Specifically, the bill would require websites offered to Californians to disclose their algorithms that decide what users see and require platforms to share data with researchers.

These bills come as the latest legislation out of a recently-formed Vaccine Work Group, which has introduced several bills this year to strengthen vaccination laws and requirements.

On top of the two bills introduced Tuesday, the group has authored four other pieces of legislation thus far, including a bill introduced last week that would require all California workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This article was originally posted on California legislation targets doctors, websites sharing COVID-19 misinformation