“Keep Kids Safe and Connected” Campaign Launches in Response to Misguided Kids Online Access Bills

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Keep Kids Safe and Connected campaign launched to raise awareness around the inadvertent consequences that advancing legislation could have on America’s youngest generation. 

As drafted, bills like KOSA will create new vulnerabilities for children’s and adults’ private data, expose children to new and unregulated safety concerns, leave parents with limited ways to keep their children safe, cut off the next generation from information critical to their education, and limit freedom of expression. 

“Keeping kids safe and connected online is essential in setting up young people to thrive as they grow into adults, which is why it is imperative that lawmakers take a smart approach to online privacy and safety,” said Christopher Mohr, President, SIIA. “We look forward to raising the voices of parents, kids, and more than 100 advocacy organizations who have already spoken out against the misguided legislative proposals because they are the wrong approach for our kids, and are instead focused on creating more effective solutions.”

“Kids deserve access to information and the digital tools critical for intellectual growth, for navigating the online world safely, and for keeping them connected with their communities – without fear of being exploited,” said Paul Lekas, Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy & Government Affairs, SIIA. “Policymakers have the opportunity to prioritize the privacy and safety of kids while empowering parents to be active participants in how their child operates online. The Keep Kids Safe and Connected campaign will help ensure policymakers take a smart approach to kids’ online access without creating harmful unintended consequences.”

“A child’s education includes a wide range of online tools for learning, grading, scheduling, and more. Children’s education and development increasingly rely on their ability to safely engage and learn online,” said Sara Kloek, Vice President, Education and Children’s Policy, SIIA. “Congress should prioritize kids’ online safety without cutting them off from important online tools, and instead empower educators and parents to teach children how to navigate the internet safely. The Keep Kids Safe and Connected campaign looks forward to working with Congress on a smarter approach to helping kids navigate their experience online while giving parents the peace of mind that their children are protected.” 

More than 100 organizations across the ideological spectrum have already spoken out about the serious unintended consequences of the current legislative proposals. The Keep Kids Safe and Connected campaign will elevate their voices and others in an effort to educate lawmakers and improve the proposals to address kids’ online safety. The campaign is a project of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

The Keep Kids Safe and Connected campaign supports measures that would meaningfully improve online privacy and safety. However, the bills under consideration would do the opposite and put our kids’ futures at risk:

  • The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA)
  • The STOP CSAM Act
  • The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA 2.0)
  • The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act)
  • The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act

We stand for keeping kids safe and connected online by:

Protecting the Privacy of Kids and All Internet Users. We believe that protecting kids’ privacy and sensitive data is an essential part of keeping kids safe and connected online. To the extent that age verification measures are needed, they should avoid treating all internet users like children, protect anonymity online, and limit the collecting of government IDs or other sensitive documents that could get into the wrong hands.

Prioritizing the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Youth. We know that kids’ experience online can affect their mental health and wellbeing. We believe understanding and tackling this complex challenge requires a holistic understanding of the role internet access plays in kids’ lives, including age-appropriate abilities to communicate with friends and family, doctors or counselors, educators, and support groups of like minded youth. This also includes access to private health information and resources that many young people only feel comfortable accessing online.

Empowering Families to Shape Kids’ Experience Online. We should provide families with the tools they need to teach their children how to navigate the internet safely. We should also promote the continued use of parental control settings and educate families about existing resources to manage their children’s experience online.

Preparing Kids to Be Smart Digital Citizens. Kids are living, learning, and exploring in an increasingly digital world. We should promote digital literacy curriculum in school and other educational programs that prepare young people with tools and best practices to be smart and safe digital citizens. Providing kids with these tools is the best way to keep them safe and prepare them to be more competitive both on and offline.

The following organizations have already spoken out against KOSA and/or other bills:

“For the past two years, Congress has been trying to revise the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) to address criticisms from EFF, human and digital rights organizations, LGBTQ groups, and others, that the core provisions of the bill will censor the internet for everyone and harm young people. All of those changes fail to solve KOSA’s inherent censorship problem: As long as the “duty of care” remains in the bill, it will still force platforms to censor perfectly legal content.” – Jason Kelley, Electronic Frontier Foundation

“Although protecting kids online is a vital goal, the version of KOSA introduced in May does little to address the concerns CDT and many other groups have raised repeatedly: the bill jeopardizes the privacy and safety of all internet users; effectively requires online services to use invasive filtering and monitoring tools, which will restrict users’ ability to access information and speak freely online; and creates disproportionate risks for already vulnerable children.” – Aliya Bhatia, Center for Democracy & Technology

“Collectively, these bills harm civil liberties in three ways. First, they incentivize platforms to monitor and censor their users’ speech and interfere with content moderation decisions. Second, they disincentivize platforms from providing end-to-end encrypted communications services, exposing the public to abusive commercial and government surveillance practices and as a result, dissuading people from communicating with each other electronically about everything from health care decisions to business transactions. And third, they expand warrantless government access to private data..” – ACLU 

“While we applaud the desire of Congress to protect children, KOSA would have exactly the opposite effect. Instead of limiting the collection of sensitive data on children, it would mandate it. Instead of protecting our First Amendment rights, it would violate them. Instead of rushing forward with this misguided effort, let’s protect children—and all Americans—by passing a national data privacy and protection law. We deserve no less.” – R Street Institute

To learn more, visit https://www.keepkidssafeandconnected.com.

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