Support Centre

You have out of 5 free articles left for the month

Signup for a trial to access unlimited content.

Start Trial

Continue reading on DataGuidance with:

Free Member

Limited Articles

Create an account to continue accessing select articles, resources, and guidance notes.

Free Trial

Unlimited Access

Start your free trial to access unlimited articles, resources, guidance notes, and workspaces.

USA: Amended Kids Online Safety Act introduced to Senate

On February 15, 2024, U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal announced updates to Senate Bill 1409 Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and bipartisan support for the KOSA. In particular, the Senator highlighted that 62 senators were now cosponsoring the KOSA.

Definitions

The bill defines a 'child' as an individual who is under the age of 13 years. 'Design feature' is defined as any feature or component of a covered platform that will encourage or increase the frequency, time spent, or activity of minors on the covered platform. Design features include but are not limited to:

  • infinite scrolling or autoplay;
  • rewards for time spent on the platform;
  • notifications;
  • personalized recommendation systems;
  • in-game purchases; or
  • appearance altering filters.

Scope

'Covered platform' is defined as 'an online platform, online video game, messaging application, or video streaming service that connects to the internet and that is used, or is reasonably likely to be used, by a minor.' Covered platform does not include:

  • an entity acting in its capacity as a provider of:
    • a common carrier service subject to the Communications Act of 1934;
    • a broadband internet access service;
    • an email service;
    • a teleconferencing or video conferencing service;
    • a wireless messaging service;
  • non-profit organizations;
  • educational institutions;
  • a product or service that primarily functions as business-to-business software, cloud storage, file sharing, or file collaboration service; or
  • a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

What is the duty of care?

Covered platforms must exercise reasonable care in the creation and implementation of any design feature to prevent and mitigate harm to minors, including:

  • evidence-informed medical information such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicidal behaviors;
  • patterns encouraging addiction;
  • physical violence;
  • sexual exploitation;
  • promotion and marketing of narcotic drugs; and
  • predatory, unfair, or deceptive marketing practices.

Covered platforms must also provide a user or visitor that the covered platform knows is a minor with readily accessible and easy-to-use safeguards, such as:

  • limiting the applicability of other users or visitors to communication with the minor;
  • preventing other users or visitors from viewing the minor's personal data;
  • limiting design features encouraging frequency, time spent, or activity on the platform;
  • controlling personalized recommendation systems; and
  • restricting the sharing of geolocation of the minor.

Covered platforms must also provide the most protective level of control for users or visitors they know are minors.

What are the parental controls?

Covered platforms must also provide parental tools to manage a minor's privacy and account settings, restrict purchases, and view metrics of total time spent on the covered platform. Notably, requirements related to parental controls are not required to be enabled by default for accounts already in existence from the entrance into effect of the KOSA.

Reporting mechanisms are also elaborated under the KOSA, with the timeframe for responding to reports dependent on the scale of usage of the covered platform.

Covered platforms must not design, modify, or manipulate a user interface with the purpose or substantial effect of subverting or impairing user autonomy, design-making, or choice, regarding parental controls.

The KOSA provides notice requirements prior to purchase or registration by an individual the covered platform knows is a minor, including information on how to access safeguards and parental controls. This may be achieved through a consolidated notice obtaining verifiable parental consent in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act 1998 (COPPA).

Transparency

Covered platforms must also issue a report annually disclosing reasonably foreseeable risks of harm to minors and assessing the prevention and mitigation measures taken to address such risks, dependent on the scale of the covered platform. The KOSA also defines what is considered a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to minors, alongside what mitigation of such risks means.

Enforcement

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is provided as responsible for enforcement of the KOSA, and violation of the KOSA's provisions will be treated as an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the FTC Act.

How does the KOSA interact with other legislation?

The KOSA is not considered to pre-empt the COPPA or the FTC Act. However, the KOSA provides that it shall pre-empt any State law, rule, or regulation only to the extent that such State law, rule, or regulation conflicts with a provision of the KOSA.

You can read the press release here, the updated KOSA here, and track its progress here.

Update: May 24, 2024

Bill forwarded to Committee

On May 23, 2024, the House Energy and Commerce Committee published a blog announcing that the bill was forwarded, without amendment, to the full committee by a voice vote. 

You can read the blog post here, the KOSA here, and track its progress here.

Update: June 26, 2024

KOSA to be considered by Committee

On June 25, 2024, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair, Cathy Rodgers, announced a full-committee markup of 11 bills on June 27, 2024, including the KOSA and the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA).

You can read the press release here, the KOSA here, and track its progress here.

Update: June 28, 2024

Committee markup cancelled

On June 27, 2024, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced the cancellation of the scheduled full committee markup.

You can read the announcement here.