Press Releases

KOSA Coalition Applauds Biden for SOTU Mention of Children’s Data Privacy, Presses for KOSA Floor Vote

Mar 07, 2024

President Biden: “Pass bipartisan privacy legislation to protect our children online.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the KOSA Coalition applauded President Joe Biden for including the urgent need to pass bipartisan children’s privacy measures in his State of the Union address. The KOSA Coalition is continuing to push Congress to pass the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which has more than 60 cosponsors in the Senate. Biden’s remarks come after over 200 labor, parent, youth, mental health, medical, and digital accountability organizations called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring KOSA to the floor for a vote and after recent revisions to the bill.

Below are statements from select KOSA Coalition members:

“Tonight, President Joe Biden made it crystal clear: protecting children and teens online isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a moral obligation Members of Congress have to the people they serve,” said Sacha Haworth, Executive Director of The Tech Oversight Project. “Families are tired of a status quo where tech companies like Meta, Google, Amazon, and Apple roll out safety-in-name-only features that don’t change how they fundamentally do business – leading to even worse outcomes for young people and their families. That has to end. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents agree: it’s time to hold social media companies accountable and chart a new path that delivers transparency, makes privacy and safety a non-negotiable, and creates a better digital environment that empowers young people. That’s why we urge Speaker Johnson and Senator Schumer to heed our bipartisan call and bring KOSA to the floor for a vote.”

“We commend President Biden for calling attention to the urgent need to protect young people online. The Kids Online Safety Act is a bipartisan bill that would do just that: make digital spaces healthier and safer for children and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges Congress to heed this call and pass KOSA without delay,“ said Benjamin Hoffman, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“AFSP is grateful to President Biden for continuing to highlight the need to ensure online spaces are safe and supportive environments for our children,” said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “The bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act will provide children and families with necessary tools and safeguards to encourage young people to engage in a productive and healthy way with the online world, while protecting them from harmful algorithms that may negatively impact their mental health, and help prevent suicide. We urge Congress to pass KOSA without delay.”

“Psychological science continues to provide evidence that social media platforms are sometimes associated with harm to young people,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “We are heartened by the attention given to this issue by the White House and a growing bipartisan group of members of Congress. The Kids Online Safety Act represents an important step toward mitigating that harm and holding the platforms accountable for these impacts. It is time for Congress to pass this legislation.”

“We appreciate the strong leadership from the White House on kids’ online safety. Rooted in evidence and supported researchers, parents, and youth advocates, it is time to bring the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) to a vote in the Senate. We must put our children’s health and safety first,” said Kris Perry, Executive Director of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development.

“The president is right: It’s time for Congress to take meaningful action now to protect kids online. The era of unaccountable Big Tech has torn countless families apart and has raised an entire generation of children to be addicted to their screens, all while padding their own pockets and fine-tuning algorithms that keep youth engaged, anxious, and depressed. Enough is enough,” said Council for Responsible Social Media Co-chair, Rep. Dick Gephardt. “Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree with the overwhelming majority of the public who rightly believe that responsible social media safeguards are crucial in order to protect kids from harmful and manipulative content. That’s why the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) — which is already supported by a bipartisan supermajority in the Senate — must become the law of the land this year.”

“Our research shows that everyone in this country — Democrat and Republican, parent and nonparent — are concerned about the future of America’s children, and it’s clear that social media is one of the big reasons why,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. “Following tonight’s address, Congress must pass popular bi-partisan legislation, like the Kids Online Safety Act and COPPA 2.0, to protect young people rather than compromising their well-being in the pursuit of enormous profits.”

“In the last two States of the Union, President Biden has reminded the nation of the “national experiment” that social media companies are conducting on children and urged Congress to pass legislation to protect kids and teens online. Now, Congress has the opportunity to advance the Kids Online Safety Act which has broad bipartisan support, and we can’t wait any longer to see accountability. All the evidence produced by this administration suggests that the youth mental health crisis is intrinsically intertwined with negative social media usage. We implore the President to finally make accountability a reality, and see that safety and privacy legislation gets through Congress and to his desk for signing before time runs out,” said Zamaan Qureshi, co-chair of Design It For Us.

“The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, & Action commends President Biden on raising the urgent need to protect our nation’s children online. The Senate Majority Leader must act now and bring the Kids Online Safety Act to the floor. Current and future generations can no longer wait,” said Christine Peat, PhD, FAED, LP, Board President, Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, & Action.  

“For the third year in a row, President Biden called on Congress to pass safety by design legislation. While we appreciate the President using the bully pulpit to elevate this critical issue, words alone haven’t stopped social media companies from exploiting and harming kids. We need Congress to pass the Kids Online Safety Act now, the only bipartisan bill that would address the wide-range of preventable harms that young people experience online every day,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director of Fairplay.

“Mental Health America appreciates the President’s recognition of the effect of social media on young people’s mental health.  Social media platforms are currently designed to maximize revenue, not mental health and wellbeing,” said Mary Giliberti, Chief Public Policy Officer for Mental Health America.  “Young people and parents are advocating together for design features that give them more control over what the platform shows them and protection from mental health harms.  Congress must pass the Kids Online Safety Act to change incentives and create a duty of care to address mental health harms, so young people can more safely benefit from the social connection and positive effects of social media.”

“Big Tech not only facilitates the sexual exploitation of children, but these companies are themselves the perpetrators of harm and abuse. Most digital platforms are dangerous by design. The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) will fix that by ensuring platforms allowing children and youth are designed with safety features on by default,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

“We are truly heartened by President Biden’s support of the Kids Online Safety Act in his State of the Union address. As we’ve seen time and again, the unchecked digital environment can pose severe threats to our children, leading to heartbreaking consequences,” said Maurine Molak, co-founder of Parents for Safe Online Spaces (ParentsSOS). “KOSA represents a beacon of hope, a significant stride towards making the digital world a safer space for our youth. We must act now to turn this hope into a reality. President Biden’s national address marks a crucial, bipartisan acknowledgment of the urgency and importance of this issue. Together, we ask that Congress seize this moment and swiftly pass KOSA, honoring the memories of our children and safeguarding the future of all children online.”

“Social media companies have earned billions of dollars on the backs and over the graves of our children. Again, and again, these companies prioritize profit over children’s mental and physical health. Indeed, every time a teen girl goes down a disordered eating rabbit hole, every time dangerous challenges go viral, every time a child can’t put down their phone, two things are happening: Children are hurt and tech companies make more money. Tech companies have shown that they will do nothing to stop more children from falling victim to the social media business model that profits from our kids’ destruction and even death. They will never choose our kids above profit. Social media companies will never regulate themselves. That’s why parents so desperately need government regulation. We need Congress to pass KOSA, and we need it now,” said Shelby Knox, Campaign Director for ParentsTogether Action.

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