Washington, D.C. – This week, a bipartisan cohort of US Senators unveiled a new version of the Kids Online Safety Act, a bill that aims to impose various restrictions and requirements on technology platforms used by both adults and minors.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. responded: 

“This bill is constitutionally dubious and would create new powers that should frighten not only every parent but also every user of digital platforms such as social media. In writing new federal rules to “protect” kids online, the real effect will be to significantly degrade the experience for all users while putting their sensitive personal information at risk.”

The Consumer Choice Center believes strongly that if Congress were to pass such a bill, lawmakers would be aligning with the idea that the government should have the final say over young people’s access to the Internet, thus diminishing the role of parents in their kids’ lives. 

“There are ways to protect kids online, but that begins at home with parental authority and supervision. It’s a false choice to accept the gatekeeping of an entire generation from technology that has become so integral to daily life and contributes to their development as responsible citizens,” added Ossowski. 

Privacy and consumer advocates are sounding the alarm about what this law would mean in practice. Rules emanating from Washington granting “duty of care” to government officials will erode parental authority and consumer choice online. The bill seeks to control “design features” and limit developers’ inclusion of personalized recommendation systems, notifications, appearance-altering filters, and in-game purchases for apps used by minors. It’s a crackdown not just on features that work functionally for certain apps, but also on features that make them fun for users.

“KOSA is fundamentally wrong,” concluded Ossowski. “We as a society should trust that parents have the ultimate right to decide whether or not their children access certain websites or services, not indifferent government officials sitting in Washington. No one knows what is in the best interests of their child more than parents.” 

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The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Washington, D.C., Ottawa, Brussels, Geneva, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for  Consumer Choice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Published at the Consumer Choice Center.