The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) of 2023 is circulating Congress with bipartisan support. According to bill sponsors Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), KOSA would require social media companies to develop enhanced parental controls for online platforms.
Additionally, and much more controversially, KOSA creates a duty for online platforms to prevent and mitigate specific dangers to minors, including “promotion of suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual exploitation,” advertisements for certain illegal or age restricted products, and other matters. State Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission would have enforcement power. This provision has drawn sharp criticism from organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, citing concerns that that enforcement would be inconsistent, politically motivated, and disproportionately impact the LGBTQ community. Further compounding these concerns, Senator Blackburn claimed in an interview that KOSA would protect children from “the transgender [sic] in this culture and that influence.”
Activists additionally raise concerns that the bill would drive the promulgation of online age verification, which would require online platforms to collect and secure sensitive personal information from consumers.
The offices of Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn have released statements further asserting that KOSA does not target specific communities, and that LGBTQ community organizations had been consulted throughout the drafting process.