NC’s attorney general is coming for TikTok, spam texts and opioids in 2023

Attorney general Josh Stein says he looks out for what’s harming the lives of North Carolinians. Then he goes after it.

Why it matters: As the state’s top legal officer, the attorney general has an influential job. Axios sat down with Stein to reflect on 2022 and look forward to what to expect in 2023. In the new year, he’s going after TikTok for its risks to young people, and is proceeding with legal action against polluters who dumped harmful contaminants into the state’s environment.

Flashback: Stein is coming off an eventful 2022.

Here are five of Stein’s fights we are watching in 2023.

1. $32.5M incoming for the opioid crisis

Mecklenburg County leaders and other stakeholders are already considering how to use the millions that will funnel into the area over the next 18 years to curb opioid abuse.

What’s happening: The funds from the opioid settlement must go toward tackling the crisis, whether that be funding prevention, treatment or recovery services.

Between the lines: Stein has heard of some effective ideas to put the money to work across the state.

2. Those pesky robotexts

For years, Stein’s office has worked with other states to push phone companies to crack down on robocalls.

What’s happening: Attorneys general nationwide are urging the Federal Communications Commission to apply the same rules to robotexts as it’s done for robocalls. This means messages originating from spoof numbers would not be allowed to come through.

What’s next: Stein expects federal rules to be finalized sometime next year. After that, companies will likely have a grace period to implement technology to prevent robotexts.

3. Coming to the Swifties’ defense

After the chaos that was the Taylor Swift presale, Stein joined Tennessee’s attorney general in announcing his office would investigate Ticketmaster and Live Nation.

What’s happening: The investigation will look into whether the combined company failed to follow through on promises, a potential violation of consumer protection laws, and if it broke antitrust laws.

What’s next: The investigation is underway.

4. Time is ticking for TikTok

Stein announced in March he is investigating TikTok for knowingly threatening young people’s mental health.

What they found: Internal research conducted by Instagram’s parent company revealed a third of teen girls said they felt worst about their bodies after using the app, and that it increased rates of anxiety and depression, The Wall Street Journal reported.

What’s next: Investigations at the attorney general’s office can lead to lawsuits, proposed changes to laws, and negotiations with the company, among other outcomes.

5. Testing the abandoned rape kits

In 2018, the attorney general’s office announced a state audit discovered more than 15,000 rape kits sitting on shelves of police departments and sheriffs’ offices statewide.

By the numbers: Now, of the approximately 12,000 kits eligible for testing (some can’t be tested if a police report wasn’t filed), more than 8,000 have been tested. The testing of all the kits could be completed late this year.

What’s happening: DNA from the kits, when matched to the national FBI database, has created leads for law enforcement to pursue. Last month, two arrests and one conviction were made in one week in Fayetteville, Durham and Wilmington.

Original Article