New bill would require Facebook, Google and others to protect children
Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), hold a news conference at Capitol.
Getty Images| CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Two senators presented a new billWednesday’s legislation would place online platforms under a duty of care to children and reduce or prevent certain harms, including suicide and eating disorders.
Sens. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), respectively, the chairman and ranking members of the Senate Commerce subcommittee for consumer protection. This would significantly impact the design of platforms created by companies such as Facebook parent Meta. Snap, GoogleTikTok.
The subcommittee had received thousands of pages from the former to make this decision. FacebookFrances Haugen is an employee. testified before the panel. Part of the documents showed that the company researched its impact on children’s platforms and came up with some conclusions. negative effects on the mental health of some teen girls. Later, lawmakers confronted Facebook executives. including Instagram chief Adam MosseriWe were furious that the company had not done more to change its services in the wake of our research.
To protect young internet users, the Kids Online Safety Act will raise standards regarding online platforms “reasonably most likely to be used by” children under 16 years old.
This requires that companies implement security measures so minors and their parents have easy access to their personal data to “control their experiences.”
They can also set up settings that limit other people’s ability to search for minors online. This allows them to restrict the data they have access to and allow them to choose to not opt-out from algorithmic recommendation systems.
It also mandates that platforms make the best version of the safeguards the default setting for their services. This bans minors from being able to deactivate those controls by services.
The annual reports of covered platforms should be based on an independent third-party audit that assesses the risk of minors using their services. They would also need to provide access to data for researchers vetted by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to conduct public interest research on the harms to minors online.
This bill directs agencies in government to determine the best way to safeguard minors who use these services. The Federal Trade Commission is directed to establish guidelines that will guide covered platforms in how they conduct research on minors. NTIA must also study the best ways for platforms to accurately and feasibly verify the age of their users.
This bill creates a new council made up of experts, parents and young people. It is convened annually by the Secretary for Commerce. The Council will provide guidance to the Secretary on how to apply the law. The FTC and the state attorneys general would enforce it.