At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., introduced the “Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act.”
Castor’s bill would ban “auto-play” sessions on websites and apps geared for children and young teens. The legislation would also pan push alerts targeting children while increasing report mechanisms to report harmful content on sites for children and young teens. The proposal would also crack down on websites “recommending content that includes host-selling, or influencer marketing, such as ‘unboxing videos’ to children and young teens” and those “recommending content that involves nicotine, tobacco, or alcohol to children and young teens.”
On Friday, Castor weighed in on her proposal.
“As more and more children find themselves with access to smart devices, especially while many are learning virtually this fall, it is critical we take steps to protect them from harmful and damaging content online. That’s why I am proud to introduce the KIDS Act to implement key safeguards to protect young people’s wellbeing online and rein in the relentless and dangerous actions of manipulative marketers and Big Tech,” Castor said.
“Parents know all too well that the online landscape has become unsafe for children, with popular apps pushing kids to spend unhealthy amounts of time on their devices and buy products at every turn. It’s clear that Congress is playing catchup when it comes to implementing laws to keep our kids safe and curtail the actions of Big Tech. My bill will take concrete action to protect the wellbeing of our children and provide parents peace of mind- it’s past time Congress takes a stand to keep our kids safe online,” she added.
U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., is co-sponsoring the bill.
“The incentive for big tech companies to get more views, more likes, and more ad revenue comes at the expense of the health and well-being of our kids,” said Wexton. “As they spend an increasing amount of time in front of their screens, our children are constantly bombarded by manipulative and inappropriate advertising and dangerous, uncensored content. I’m proud to support the KIDS Act to put in place long-overdue controls on the advertising and design features of these online products to protect kids and teens online.”
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced the bill over in the U.S. Senate back in March.
“During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, children’s time online has skyrocketed. In fact, more than half of parents report that their kids are spending more than six hours a day online. Unfortunately, this trend brings with it serious threats to young users’ well-being,” Markey said on Friday. “The KIDS Act includes critical new safeguards to protect children from manipulative marketing, disturbing content, and harmful design features online. I thank Representative Castor for her partnership on this important legislation.”
The bill has the support of Common Sense Media.
“Representative Castor has been a champion for kids and families and we applaud her efforts to ensure kids are safe online,” said James Steyer, the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. “The pandemic has put devices front and center and now kids spend incredible amounts of time online, it’s critical that Congress pass the KIDS Act to safeguard our kids from addictive and manipulative design and extreme and inappropriate content.”
Castor’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee last week.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.