1 of 2 | After reintroducing legislation to hold tech companies accountable for the safety of children online, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on Tuesday said, "Our bill provides specific tools to stop Big Tech companies from driving toxic content at kids and to hold them accountable for putting profits over safety." File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
May 2 (UPI) -- U.S. senators on Tuesday reintroduced legislation to hold tech companies accountable for the safety of children online.
In a Tuesday announcement, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the Kids Online Safety Act "requires independent audits by experts and academic researchers to ensure that social media platforms are taking meaningful steps to address risks to kids."
A prior version of the legislation passed the Commerce Committee by a unanimous 28-0 vote in July.
Following the committee vote, a number of advocacy groups, including the ACLU, GLAAD and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, co-signed a letter condemning the legislation as invasive.
The groups said the bill could backfire "by effectively forcing providers to use invasive filtering and monitoring tools; jeopardizing private, secure communications; incentivizing increased data collection on children and adults; and undermining the delivery of critical services to minors by public agencies like schools."
The version of the Kids Online Safety Act reintroduced Tuesday greatly narrows the scope of the legislation and lays out specific content that platforms would be required to moderate, including content promoting suicide, drug use, and eating disorders.
The new version of the legislation has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the Eating Disorders Coalition.
The version of the bill introduced Tuesday also would require social media platforms to give children more options to protect their personal data.
"Over the last two years, Sen. Blumenthal and I have met with countless parents, psychologists, and pediatricians who are all in agreement that children are suffering at the hands of online platforms," Blackburn said.
"Big Tech has proven that children are suffering at the hands of online platforms," she said.
"Our bill provides specific tools to stop Big Tech companies from driving toxic content at kids and to hold them accountable for putting profits over safety," she said.