The comprehensive Kids Online Safety Act would enhance children’s safety online as Big Tech fails to protect kids on their platforms
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) issued the following statements following Senate Commerce Committee’s unanimous bipartisan passage of the Kids Online Safety Act:
“This unanimous bipartisan vote marks a momentous step toward holding Big Tech accountable for putting profits above kids’ safety,” said Blumenthal. “We have heard the harrowing accounts about how Big Tech essentially betrayed its trust using black box algorithms to drive destructive content to children—content about the self-harm, substance abuse, bullying, addiction, and simply horrible pain. This measure gives back control to children and parents over their online lives. Big Tech may resist, with armies of lobbyists and lawyers, but this unanimous vote reflects how Americans feel. Along with my partner in this effort, Senator Blackburn, I will continue fighting for this bill’s swift Senate passage.”
“I am thrilled that we are one step closer to protecting kids online,” said Blackburn. “I have heard countless stories of physical and emotional damage, suicide, and other mental health issues affecting young users. Even after being confronted with compelling evidence of the damage their platforms can inflict, Big Tech remains unwilling to change. This legislation will set the necessary guiderails for online platforms to follow that will require transparency and give parents more peace of mind. Thank you to Senator Blumenthal for being a partner in the fight to protect children online.”
The introduction of the Kids Online Safety Act followed reporting and a series of subcommittee hearings spearheaded by Blumenthal and Blackburn with social media companies and advocates on the repeated failures by tech giants to protect kids on their platforms and about the dangers kids face online. The legislation would provide kids and parents with tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against threats to children’s health and well-being online. It requires social media platforms to put the interests of children first, providing an environment that is safe by default and help prevent these destructive impacts. The legislation also requires independent audits and supports public scrutiny from experts and academic researchers to ensure that parents and policymakers know whether social media platforms are taking meaningful steps to address risks to kids. More information on the legislation can be found here.
The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Joni Ernst (R-IA).
The Kids Online Safety Act has been endorsed by 140 advocacy and technology groups, including Common Sense Media, American Psychological Association, Eating Disorders Coalition, American Academy of Pediatrics, 5Rights Foundation, American Compass, Internet Accountability Project, American Principles Project, Digital Progress Institute, and Plan International USA.