2022_WCReaganDayGala_-5.jpg Marsha Blackburn

Tenn. Sen. Marsha Blackburn

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) saw their Kids Online Safety Act passed through the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously this week.

It will now will head to the Senate floor for consideration and likely passage. 

The bill seeks to, per Sen. Blackburn's office, "provide kids and parents with tools, safeguards and transparency they need to protect against threats to children’s health and well-being online. 

"It requires social media platforms to put the interests of children first, providing an environment that is safe by default and help prevent these destructive impacts. The legislation also requires independent audits and supports public scrutiny from experts and academic researchers to ensure that parents and policymakers know whether social media platforms are taking meaningful steps to address risks to kids." 

Blackburn's office says the bill has been endorsed by 140 advocacy and technology groups, including Common Sense Media, American Psychological Association, Eating Disorders Coalition, American Academy of Pediatrics, 5Rights Foundation, American Compass, Internet Accountability Project, American Principles Project, Digital Progress Institute and Plan International USA.  

A series of subcommittee hearings on the subject led by Blackburn and Blumenthal to craft the piece of legislation, which will likely pass through the Senate with no trouble after bipartisan support from the Senate Commerce Committee. 

“I am thrilled that we are one step closer to protecting kids online,” said Blackburn in a statement. “I have heard countless stories of physical and emotional damage, suicide, and other mental health issues affecting young users. Even after being confronted with compelling evidence of the damage their platforms can inflict, Big Tech remains unwilling to change.

"This legislation will set the necessary guiderails for online platforms to follow that will require transparency and give parents more peace of mind. Thank you to Senator Blumenthal for being a partner in the fight to protect children online.”

Though, the bipartisan legislation does have its detractors. Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that advocates for censorship and surveillance restrictions, critiqued the bill in March. 

"The bill deserves credit for attempting to improve online data privacy for young people, and for attempting to update 1998’s Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA)," a statement from the group reads. "But its plan to require surveillance and censorship of anyone sixteen and under would greatly endanger the rights, and safety, of young people online."