WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Senators Blackburn & Blumenthal Announce Growing Support For Kids Online Safety Act

February 22, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, introduced the Kids Online Safety Act.


Here is what advocates and technology groups are saying about the Kids Online Safety Act:

“The KIDS Online Safety Act is an important first step in reining in the harms caused to children by social media platforms,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “Enacting measures that curtail harmful practices while authorizing research to understand additional impacts is a thoughtful strategy. APA supports the leadership and bipartisan efforts of Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal on this measure and looks forward to working with Congress to address this important issue.”


"Social media platforms are profoundly damaging the mental and emotional health of children and refuse to put that problem ahead of their quarterly profits. This leaves policymakers the task of creating transparency, imposing accountability, and giving parents real control over what their children experience online. Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal have shown admirable bipartisan resolve to act on that responsibility, and the Kids Online Safety Act is an important next step in that work,” said Chris Griswold, Policy Director, American Compass.


“Senator Blackburn is continuing to help lead the way among Republicans to rein in Big Tech and hold bad actors in Silicon Valley accountable for their harmful and dangerous practices. As senators have learned through various committee hearings, Big Tech will prioritize advertising dollars over kids’ safety any day of the week if they aren’t stopped. Big Tech monopolists should no longer be allowed to target children with harmful or illegal conduct on their platforms. This bill would equip parents with the tools necessary to appropriately supervise and moderate what young, still forming, minds are exposed to on these increasingly dark and massive social media platforms,” said Mike Davis, Founder and President, Internet Accountability Project.


"Given the pervasiveness of technology, it is unreasonable to place all the responsibility for a child's safety and well-being on the parent. Society has a role to play as well. Tech platforms specifically should bear responsibility for the content they are making available to minors. The Kids Online Safety Act is a common sense bipartisan bill that aims to protect kids from some of the worst aspects of the Internet, while providing parents with stronger tools to better direct their children's online experience. American Principles Project is proud to endorse this legislation,” said Jon Schweppe, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, American Principles Project.


“At the risk of an understatement, the recent revelations on how Facebook and Instagram view children were shocking. Facebook's own internal research showed that the social media platform ‘has a serious negative harm on a significant portion of teenagers and younger children.’ These services expose children to online predators, and have increased the incidence of teenage eating disorders, body image issues and suicidal thoughts among teenagers. The Kids Online Safety Act would empower law enforcement agencies to protect our children from everything we know—and don't know—about the services available online,” said Joel Thayer, President, Digital Progress Institute.


"It is long past time for tech companies to put the well-being and safety of children and teens' first. The Kids Online Safety Act rightfully imposes a duty on covered platforms to act in the best interest of vulnerable children and teens by requiring them to address the many serious online harms kids face, from the promotion of self-harm, suicide, and eating disorder content to predatory, unfair, and deceptive marketing practices,” said Danny Weiss, Chief Advocacy Officer, Common Sense Media. “This important new bill would also empower both minors and their parents with meaningful safeguards and controls that would actually protect them online.  Common Sense applauds Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn for working together on this critical legislation to make the Internet a safer place for our children and teens. We recognize that there is no single solution to the harm kids experience online and we hope that KOSA is passed this year alongside legislation to update the U.S. children's privacy law, COPPA."


Clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute Dr. Dave Anderson said this bill marks the sensible intersection of tech and public policy: “I think politicians are taking what we know from the science and saying, ‘How do we build in these safeguards?’”


“The social media giants are peddling a false narrative that their platforms are simply a reflection of its users’ interests and experiences, without distortion or manipulation by the platforms. But they know full well that this not true,” said Dr. S. Bryn Austin, Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders and Board Member of the EDC. “For teens struggling with body image, eating disorders, anxiety or other mental health issues, the extreme eating disorders content that is algorithmically boosted to them on social media and the resulting negative social comparison are a dangerous trap, intensifying their engagement and extending the time they spend on the platform even while simultaneously worsening their symptoms. It is going to take bold action from Congress to finally put restraints on the unmitigated harm to the mental health of young people being caused every day by social media’s reckless and predatory algorithms.”

“Great week for kids online safety. Bipartisan bills in Congress & California call for comprehensive reform of how #BigTech designs products. It's time product safety rules caught up with tech,” said Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media.


“We need to ensure girls feel safe on social media! Our research shows more than half of girls are harassed online. We applaud Senator Blumenthal and Senator Blackburn for introducing this bill,” said Plan International USA.


“5Rights welcomes the introduction of the Kids Online Safety Act. The digital world should be safe for children by design and by default. This would bring us one step closer to delivering on this ambition,” said 5Rights Foundation.