Senators try to add kids online safety bills to FAA act

Senators are trying to add bills that are aimed at boosting kids online safety into a must-pass Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization act.

Two bills aimed at increasing safety of minors online through data privacy updates and rules to limit potentially harmful features are being put forward as amendments to be added to the FAA reauthorization that must pass ahead of a May 10 deadline.

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) filed their bill COPPA 2.0, which would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, as an amendment to the FAA bill Thursday.

“Today, Senator Cassidy and I filed COPPA 2.0 as an amendment to the FAA bill because we have waited far too long to protect children and teens’ privacy in this country,” Markey said in a statement.

“We need to stop Big Tech’s invasive and pernicious business model that tracks and targets our young people online. Big Tech has contributed to the youth mental crisis, and it’s time Congress did something about it,” he added.

The bill aims to increase data privacy for children online by adding regulations around how data from users aged 16 and under is collected and used by tech companies. It would also ban targeted ads for minors.

Another bill, the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), was put forward as an amendment to the FAA by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Blackburn confirmed.

The spokesperson said the two senators are pursuing “all possible paths to see KOSA signed into law,” including by attaching it to the upcoming FAA reauthorization.

KOSA targets the design of platforms, and would add regulations that aim to mitigate concerns about certain tools and features that could be harmful to children’s mental health.

It has rare broad, bipartisan support — with more than 60 senators listed as co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The bill gained momentum after a hearing on kids safety featuring the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, Discord, Snap, and X in January, but it has yet to be called to a floor vote.

A bipartisan House version was introduced in March, adding a more clear pathway for the bill to pass both chambers.

The FAA reauthorization is one of the last must-pass pieces of legislation lawmakers need to consider before September, so it could lead lawmakers to push for unrelated priority bills to be added to pass ahead of the November elections.

Kids online safety advocates, including parents and teen-led groups, have been pressing Congress to act on KOSA after years of inaction toward regulation tech platforms and their impacts on teens. Lawmakers have held a series of hearings about the harms but have yet to pass legislation to add enforceable rules that aim to hold tech companies accountable for their impact on kids.

The Senate voted 89 to 10 Wednesday to overcome the first procedural hurdle to move toward consideration of the overall package.

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