US Senate Bill 1409: Kids Online Safety Act


Reported to Senate (12/13/2023)

Kids Online Safety Act

This bill sets out requirements to protect minors from online harms.

The requirements apply to covered platforms, which are applications or services (e.g., social networks) that connect to the internet and are likely to be used by minors. However, the bill exempts internet service providers, email services, educational institutions, and other specified entities from the requirements.

Covered platforms must take reasonable measures in the design and operation of products or services used by minors to prevent and mitigate certain harms that may arise from that use (e.g., sexual exploitation and online bullying).

Additionally, covered platforms must provide (1) minors with certain safeguards, such as settings that restrict access to minors' personal data; and (2) parents or guardians with tools to supervise minors' use of a platform, such as control of privacy and account settings.

Covered platforms must also

  • disclose specified information, including details regarding the use of personalized recommendation systems and individual-specific advertising to minors;
  • allow parents, guardians, minors, and schools to report certain harms;
  • refrain from facilitating advertising of age-restricted products or services (e.g., tobacco and gambling) to minors; and
  • annually report on foreseeable risks of harm to minors from using the platform.

Additionally, the bill requires large (based on specified revenue, employment, or user criteria) websites, internet applications, and search engines (including social network sites) to meet certain requirements before using algorithms that prioritize information furnished to the user based on user-specific data. For example, such platforms must (1) provide users with notice that the website uses such algorithms, and (2) make available a version of the platform that uses algorithms that do not prioritize information based on user data.

The bill provides for enforcement through the Federal Trade Commission and states.

Further, the bill requires the commission to seek to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the risks of harm to minors by the use of social media and other online platforms.

The bill establishes a council to advise on implementing the bill. It also requires guidance for market and product research focused on minors and an evaluation of options to verify a user's age.

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