Advocates, Experts for Tech Accountability Endorse KOSA, COPPA 2.0 Bills to Address Youth Online Safety
RFOB stands by youth safety advocates to urge the U.S. Senate to pass necessary tech regulation that could vastly improve the experiences of young people online; “An important first step for reform.”
25 September 2023 — The Real Facebook Oversight Board, a watchdog group advocating for reforms of harm caused by Meta’s platforms, today endorsed two youth safety and privacy bills moving ahead in the U.S. Congress. The organization, which includes tech accountability experts and advocates, civil rights leaders and journalists from around the world, will urge its supporters in the US to engage with elected officials to pass both bills.
Last month, two critical bills for improving youth safety and privacy online passed the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee: the Kid’s Online Safety Act (KOSA) and The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0). Both bills are expected to advance soon in the Senate, with bipartisan support and endorsement from the Biden administration. RFOB recommends that both bills pass Congress in order to hold tech platforms accountable and safeguard youth online.
“The Kids Online Safety Act would create much needed accountability for Big Tech companies and platforms, and actually provide us with tools and options to protect our profiles by default,” said Zamaan Qureshi, the Policy Advisor of RFOB, a college student and co-chair of Design it For Us, a coalition of young activists and organizations advocating for safer social media and online platforms. “It would give us the ability to opt-out of algorithmic recommendations that direct us towards triggering images or accounts, and disable addictive features that send us down a rabbit hole and shape how we feel about ourselves. The Kids Online Safety Act tells Big Tech companies that they must design their products with the user in mind — us.”
In endorsing KOSA, the RFOB stands in support of stronger protections for youth online, to prevent social media platforms from showing harmful content, such as violence, bigotry, cyberbullying, and pro-eating disorder content, to minors. KOSA’s safety protections will limit algorithmic recommendation systems, create default protections for minors online, and allow children and parents to feel more secure using social media platforms.
“These bills are not perfect, and the debate around them — as well as the interest in some supporters in misusing these bills — leaves room for further progress” said a spokesperson for Real Facebook Oversight Board. “But they are meaningful bills that have left committee and have real momentum. This is an important first step for reform.”
Alongside KOSA, the RFOB strongly endorses COPPA 2.0, the long-overdue update to the original 1998 COPPA, which enacted basic privacy protections for children under 13. COPPA 2.0 increases these protections to encompass minors below the age of 16, which includes limitations on data collection and bans on targeted advertising. With new provisions adapted for modern social media platforms, COPPA 2.0 will revitalize youth privacy protections and complement the safety mechanisms of KOSA.
Together, both bills will assure a more positive experience online for children and teens, but first, we need to get these bills through Congress. As Jim Steyer of RFOB and Common Sense Media said, “The pressure to stay safe on social media falls too heavily on young people, and it’s time for all of us to level up our calls for systemic change.” We have a personal duty to our youth online to provide them a space where they feel safe, and we cannot allow tech companies to blockade our efforts and render them useless.
The Real Facebook Oversight Board urges its followers to call and email their Senators in order to pass KOSA and COPPA 2.0.
“Youth safety and tech policy activists made these bills work. The concentrated efforts of parents and children who were harmed by social media are what propelled these bills to Congress,” Qureshi said. “Even if this legislation has bipartisan support, this could not have happened without your voices. Now, as KOSA and COPPA 2.0 head to the Senate, we need to maintain the momentum.”
Real Facebook Oversight Board members are available for interviews. Statements do not reflect the individual positions of all Real Facebook Oversight Board Members. Contact us at email@example.com. The Real Facebook Oversight Board is an emergency response to the ongoing harms on Facebook’s platforms from leading global scholars, experts and advocates.