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27 Apr, 2023
2 min time to read

The implementation of the 'Protecting Kids on Social Media Act' would entail a comprehensive reassessment of the online behavior of both adults and children.

A bipartisan bill has been introduced by Senators Tom Cotton, Brian Schatz, Chris Murphy, and Katie Britt, called the "Protecting Kids on Social Media Act." This bill would mandate social media platforms to verify users' ages and restrict anyone under the age of 13 from creating accounts, while also implementing special rules for minors over the age of 13. The government would also be required to pilot a voluntary nationwide verification system using official records and IDs to verify people's ages online.

Platforms that offer services in the US and allow users to publish text, images, and videos would be covered under this bill, with a few exceptions for services such as cloud storage and video conferencing. These platforms would be required to take "reasonable steps" to confirm a user's age, going beyond just checking a box that says the user is over 18.

For younger users, who are theoretically already banned from many social media platforms, they would not be allowed to create accounts. For older minors, social media platforms would not be allowed to use personal data for algorithmic recommendation systems. Platforms could suggest content or advertising based on the context of the content being viewed by the individual, but sites must have a mechanism for parents or guardians to give consent for their kids to use the platforms.

Infractions of this bill would be treated as violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which could result in severe penalties.

While the bill does not require any specific age verification method, it would require the Secretary of Commerce to pilot a program that uses government-issued identification for age verification. The program would let people obtain a "secure digital identification credential" by uploading copies of IDs or validating identity information shared against electronic government documentation.

Some are concerned that the bill infringes on constitutionally-protected rights and violates privacy, while others see it as a necessary step to protect younger users on social media platforms. Similar laws have already been enacted in some states, such as Utah and Arkansas.