September 13, 2022. Advocates mobilizing this week, urging Congress to push children’s internet protections across the finish line

David Monahan Fairplay ([email protected])

Advocates mobilizing this week, urging Congress to push children’s internet protections across the finish line

Over 100 orgs will send letters to Congress, and Senators Blumenthal and Markey will join advocates and families in a virtual rally

BOSTON–Tuesday, September 13, 2022– Marshaling overwhelming public support for laws to protect children online, advocates will make a coordinated push this week to urge Congress to pass the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Both bills advanced out of the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this summer, and supporters say now is the time for Congress to finally require Big Tech to put young users’ wellbeing ahead of profits.

Fairplay is leading the following efforts this week:

1) Tonight (Tuesday at 6:30 pm ET) Fairplay, Common Sense, the Center for Digital Democracy, the Eating Disorders Coalition, and Public Citizen will host parent and youth advocates and experts at an online rally urging grassroots efforts in all 50 states pushing lawmakers to support these bills. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey will also appear at the rally to speak about their legislation.

2) At the rally, the advocates will launch a social media campaign to highlight the need for national online protections for children, called #MakeItSafeForKids. The advocates ask the bills’ supporters to post a picture of the reasons why they want the internet to be made safer.

3) A coalition of more than 100 organizations is sending two letters to Congress urging action. A letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, from 145 organizations, urges them to advance KOSA and COPPA to full Senate votes. A letter addressed to House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, from 158 organizations, urges them to introduce a House companion bill to KOSA. The advocates state in the letter to the Senate: “The enormity of the youth mental health crisis needs to be addressed as the very real harms of social media are impacting our children today. Taken together, the Kids Online Safety Act and the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act would prevent online platforms from exploiting young users’ developmental vulnerabilities and targeting them in unfair and harmful ways.” 

Josh Golin, Executive Director, Fairplay:

“We’re so grateful to Senators Markey and Blumenthal for introducing these bills. Thanks to their efforts and the rising voices of parents and advocates, we are closer than ever to enacting protections which will finally create a safer online experience for young people.  But ‘close’ won’t save children’s lives or create the internet kids and families deserve–we need action from Congres now.”

Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media:

“Taken together, these two bipartisan bills are monumental toward holding social media platforms accountable and protecting minors online. We thank Senators Markey and Blumenthal for their leadership on these important issues and for demonstrating to their colleagues in Congress that protecting the privacy and online health of kids and teens everywhere is of the utmost importance. It is time to pass federal legislation that will protect all kids online.” 

Katharina Kopp, Deputy Director, Center for Digital Democracy:

“Big Tech must be required to create a safer world for children and teens online. Congress must act now and enact two critical pieces of bipartisan legislation– COPPA 2.0 and KOSA.  Inaction from Congress will harm a generation of young people.”

Johanna Kandel, CEO of the National Alliance for Eating Disorders and Board Member of the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action:

“It’s time to hold big tech accountable for their role in exposing children to unhealthy and harmful content, leading to declining mental health, higher rates of suicide, and eating disorders. As both a CEO of an eating disorders nonprofit and a mom of a young child, these new laws would go a long way in safeguarding the experiences our children have online.”

Emily Peterson-Cassin, Digital Rights Advocate, Public Citizen:

Harm to kids shouldn’t be the cost of doing business. The surveillance economy is harming everyone, but its effects on children are devastating. These bills take an important step towards mitigating the damage. We cannot wait while our children are at stake.”