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Free Expression, Privacy & Data

CDT, ACLU, EFF, Fight for the Future, and OTI Call on House Subcommittee to Improve Kids Online Safety Act to Ensure Kids’ Access to Critical Information

In advance of the markup in the House Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee today, the undersigned civil society organizations sent a letter to House Commerce Chairs and members of the Innovation, Communications, and Technology Subcommittee to express our concerns with the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), H.R. 7891, as currently drafted.

We share the goal of keeping kids safe online, and appreciate that there have been positive changes made to the legislation to reduce many concerns raised by civil society, LGBTQ communities, and grassroots advocates. We urge you to continue that process of engagement and to continue making additional changes to the bill to mitigate still extant concerns that it will censor valuable speech and undermine the privacy rights of everyone online as you prepare for a full committee markup.

We continue to have concerns that this bill will be misused to target marginalized communities and politically divisive information, concerns that have not been fully addressed in H.R. 7891, as introduced. Even with key changes to the duty of care to limit its application to “high impact online companies,” KOSA still requires services that users depend on to restrict their services from recommending content that meets the government’s view of what will harm youth mental health.

As a result, companies looking to reduce their legal risk will remain incentivized not to recommend content on young people’s feeds that they fear legislators and enforcers could claim relates to negative mental health outcomes, including content related to sexual health and reproductive care, racial justice, LGBTQ+ issues, and other politically divisive content, even though such content can be critically important to many young people and their safety and security.

Read the full letter.