Last week, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act (“KOSA”), which would impose new safeguards, tools, and transparency requirements for minors online. The bill applies to entities that are a “commercial software application or electronic service that connects to the internet and that is used, or is reasonably likely to be used, by a minor [under 17].” While several bills have been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives to regulate the collection or use of personal data of minors through amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), this bill instead focuses on activities that are likely to impact the type and amount of content minors are exposed to online.
The law would:
- Create a “duty to act in the best interests of a minor that uses [a covered entity’s] products or services”;
- Provide minors and parents controls such as the ability to opt-out of recommendation systems that use a minor’s personal data, to limit “features that increase, sustain, or extend use” of an online service, and to limit time minors spend on a service;
- Require that the controls listed above, among others, are applied by default to covered services;
- Require covered entities to provide in their terms and conditions an overview of any algorithmic recommendation systems that process personal data of minors or provide information to minors;
- Require covered entities to annually conduct an independent audit of risks of harm to minors on their service and issue a public report based on its findings; and
- Create opportunities for researchers and non-profit organizations to access datasets from covered entities for purposes of researching harms to and the safety and well-being of minors.