Kids Online Safety Act receives bipartisan support despite censorship concerns

Kid Computer

The Kids Online Safety Act is a proposed bill that’s received bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats, however critics are vocal about the potential chilling effects it will have on freedom of speech.

According to the bill, covered sites will have a “duty of care” to children under the age of 13. According to critics, this requirement compels sites to go above and beyond existing standards in order to ensure their product’s “design features”.

The bill’s wide support was touted as a victory by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CU) due to having 62 co-sponsors at the time of writing from across the political aisle.

Since posting, the tweet has had a Community Note added onto it, calling the bill a “Trojan horse for internet censorship”. Critics of the bill feel that it will empower bad faith actors in the government to attack sites they disagree with politically, using potentially predatory business practices as a smokescreen. Many of the things the bill considers predatory design features, are things many users may consider typical site features and will force businesses to reconsider many of their existing practices, here are some examples from the bill.

DESIGN FEATURE.—The term ‘‘design feature’’ means 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—
(A) infinite scrolling or auto play;
(B) rewards for time spent on the platform;
(C) notifications;
(D) personalized recommendation systems;
(E) in-game purchases; or
(F) appearance altering filters.

Covered platforms will be required to make easily-accessible options to limit these design features, and while some should obviously be restricted such as “in-game purchases”, others are part of the current web as we know it and usually include options to turn them off such as notifications, auto play, and personalized recommendations. Though admittedly these are usually hidden in settings menus.

Just as support for the bill has been bipartisan in the senate, criticism has been bipartisan as well, with individual citizens expressing concerns that the bill’s enforcement could be used against sites which host LGBT+ content and progressive speech just as much as it could be used against conservative speech. The bill is also supported by companies such as Nintendo of America, X (formerly Twitter), and the Christian Camp and Conference Association.



A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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