House Accused of Stalling Kids Online Safety Act

( – On Thursday June 27, a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of 11 bills was cancelled just before it was set to begin.

A markup refers to the process in which the committee considers and revises various legislative bills. Some House Republican leaders oppose the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) which was also slated to be addressed at the markup. Supporters of the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) which was also on the agenda were dismayed by the cancellation.

Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay for Kids, has referred to the cancellation of the markup as “hostage taking”. He suggested they could have handled KOSA without insisting on APRA being addressed in the same markup. He added that there was no need to make families wait any longer for a safer online environment for kids. Maurine Molak, co-founder of the parent-led advocacy group ParentsSOS commented that KOSA has broad bipartisan support and that children’s safety shouldn’t be sidelined by unrelated legislative hurdles.

KOSA’s intended purpose is to regulate social media platforms and other online services in order to help prevent harm to children and teens. It includes provisions for age verification, parental notifications, and content regulation. It also enacts requirements for platforms to design their services in ways that prioritize the safety of minors.

President Biden endorses the bill, and 62 Democrat and Republican co-sponsors have signed off on it. Initially there was some criticism from LGBTQ+ organizations who expressed concern that it would limit children’s access to sexual and gender identity online resources.

In a public statement Florida Democrat Representative Kathy Castor said that there is no more time to wait to create a safer online environment for the children of the nation. APRA also has bipartisan support although there are still some serious concerns about it. The purpose is to establish comprehensive national standards for data privacy and security.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise says there are many concerns about the bill, but a big concern is that it could “unleash trial lawyers” on small businesses all across the country. Danny Weiss, of the advocacy group Common Sense Media also accused the House committee of holding KOSA hostage and demanded they move ahead with it without consideration for other legislation.

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