The first thing you need to know about the latest bill in Congress meant to protect children on the internet is that one of its co-sponsors has been waging this fight against tech platforms since the days of MySpace. This bill, the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, concerns children who were not yet born at the dawn of social media, whose parents could once have jockeyed to remain in each other’s Top 8, while their own parents in turn may have sounded the alarm about such newfound dangers as “emo” and camera phones.
For nearly as long as there have been websites, Congress has proposed laws to control what kids can see and do online. KOSA, in turn, has been billed as a new way to protect kids from a more pervasive and more dangerous internet. But in reality, KOSA hands powerful tools to the far right to further wage its war on kids, whether it’s censoring education on racism or demonizing queer and trans youth. Meanwhile, Democrats who support KOSA appear to either not have noticed or not minded.
To date, dozens of civil society groups have opposed KOSA due to the risks it poses to those who would be harmed by concentrating decision-making in this way.