Congress has a busy itinerary in the lame duck session, but some grieving parents believe lawmakers should have a clear legislative priority: to protect minors from the harms they say resulted in the deaths of their children.
A group of mothers whose child deaths were linked to social media is meeting with lawmakers this week and sent a letter to congressional leaders urging Congress to pass two bills that would add additional regulations governing how tech companies operate. for children and teenagers.
The group includes parents of children who died from fentanyl-containing drugs purchased on apps, by suicide after being cyberbullied online and by participating in a dangerous viral ‘choking challenge’.
“I want social media companies to be held accountable for their products,” Kristin Bride, one of the parents, said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on Tuesday.
“We know anonymous apps are dangerous, we need to have a process where these products are vetted like every other industry before they are released to millions of young users,” she added.
The bride’s son, Carson, died by suicide after being bullied over an anonymous feature available via Snapchat. The feature is no longer offered on the picture messaging app, but she said that since then other anonymous messaging features with the same issues have appeared on other platforms.
The bride and other parent activists are pushing for the Senate to pass the Children’s Online Safety Act (KOSA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act 2.0 (COPPA 2.0). The bills walked out of a Senate committee in July with bipartisan support.
KOSA discusses platform design and operation for young users. This would create a duty of care for social media platforms to prevent and mitigate harm to minors, and would require platforms to implement the strictest privacy settings as the default setting for minors.
The senses. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), major sponsors of KOSA, said the proposal was necessary to hold social media platforms accountable.
COPPA 2.0 would update the Children’s Privacy Act of 1998 to include protections for minors between the ages of 12 and 16, who are not covered by the existing law, and would add new protections such as the ban on targeted advertising for children.
The parent activists meet with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (DN.J.) during their visit to Congress.
The Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee on Commerce, led by Blumenthal and Blackburn, held a series of hearings last year with tech companies such as Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube, to put pressure on leaders regarding potential harm to children.
Blumenthal told reporters on Tuesday that industry officials had provided no viable or credible objections to any part of the legislation.
Blackburn said the industry has shown “it won’t self-regulate, which is part of the frustration we’ve faced”.
Bills are supported on both sides of the aisle, but may face a crossroads, particularly COPPA 2.0, due to differences among lawmakers over how to proceed with updating privacy regulations Datas.
Tricia Enright, spokeswoman for Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), said the senator was speaking to families this week and “supports any effort to embrace online privacy for children during the lame duck”.
When the bills rolled out of committee in July, Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) voted against COPPA 2.0 not on the basis of the legislation itself, but rather because he said the committee should have prioritized full protection of US data privacy instead. law (ADPPA). Cantwell did not support the ADPPA.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a version of the ADPPA in July with bipartisan support.
CJ Young, a spokesperson for Pallone, said the president “is focused on passing US privacy and data protection law before the end of the year, which includes historic privacy protections in line for children and adolescents”.
Competing priorities can hamper efforts to update regulations on handling data of children at the finish line.
In addition to lawmakers, the group of activist mothers also meet with Federal Trade Commission commissioners Alvaro Bedoya and Christine Wilson. The agency launched an effort in August to review and update data privacy rules.