(Updates headline and story throughout with bill released.)
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A bipartisan Senate duo is offering an updated version of kids’ online privacy legislation that addresses concerns raised by the LGBTQ community and key lawmakers.
Lawmakers, after decades of inaction, are pushing to pass privacy protections before the year ends. Advancing a narrower bill focused on children is seen by some as more feasible than passing a comprehensive measure. Senate sponsors Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) unveiled the reworked version of the Kids Online Safety Act (S. 3663) Tuesday.
“With these changes—made with bipartisan and broad advocate support—there is no reason for the bill not to move ahead. Young people and grieving parents from across the country have powerfully asked us: how many more children have to die before we make them a priority?” Blumenthal and Blackburn said in a joint statement.”The time for stronger online safeguards and Big Tech accountability is now.”
Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) is championing the bill in the House.
The revised measure includes modified “duty of care” language to address activists’ concerns that attorneys general with anti-LGBTQ ideologies could misuse the bill. Duty of care is a legal requirement that in the context of this legislation means social media companies must design their platforms with children’s best interest in mind.
The language has also been updated to say companies wouldn’t be required to collect additional data from users to ascertain age.
The latest bill reflects feedback from Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), advocates who pushed for changes to the bill said in interviews with Bloomberg Government.
Bill sponsors are seeking to add the bill to a government funding package. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is continuing to push for the inclusion of his bipartisan Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (S. 1628) in the spending bill as well, his communications director, Rosemary Boeglin, said.
Cantwell supports adding the Kids Online Safety Act as well as the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act to a government funding bill. Her buy-in — along with that of Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Pallone, and Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) — is crucial for getting both chambers’ leaders to add the bills to the spending package.
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