Press Release

Castor Introduces Legislation to Protect Children from Harmful Content on Internet

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Washington, September 25, 2020 | comments

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the below statement following introduction of her Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act, H.R. 8372:

“As more and more children find themselves with access to smart devices, especially while many are learning virtually this fall, it is critical we take steps to protect them from harmful and damaging content online. That’s why I am proud to introduce the KIDS Act to implement key safeguards to protect young people’s wellbeing online and rein in the relentless and dangerous actions of manipulative marketers and Big Tech.

“Parents know all too well that the online landscape has become unsafe for children, with popular apps pushing kids to spend unhealthy amounts of time on their devices and buy products at every turn. It’s clear that Congress is playing catchup when it comes to implementing laws to keep our kids safe and curtail the actions of Big Tech. My bill will take concrete action to protect the wellbeing of our children and provide parents peace of mind- it’s past time Congress takes a stand to keep our kids safe online,” said Rep. Castor.

“During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, children’s time online has skyrocketed. In fact, more than half of parents report that their kids are spending more than six hours a day online. Unfortunately, this trend brings with it serious threats to young users’ well-being,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). “The KIDS Act includes critical new safeguards to protect children from manipulative marketing, disturbing content, and harmful design features online. I thank Representative Castor for her partnership on this important legislation.”

"The incentive for big tech companies to get more views, more likes, and more ad revenue comes at the expense of the health and well-being of our kids," said Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10). "As they spend an increasing amount of time in front of their screens, our children are constantly bombarded by manipulative and inappropriate advertising and dangerous, uncensored content. I'm proud to support the KIDS Act to put in place long-overdue controls on the advertising and design features of these online products to protect kids and teens online."

“Representative Castor has been a champion for kids and families and we applaud her efforts to ensure kids are safe online,” said James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media.  "The pandemic has put devices front and center and now kids spend incredible amounts of time online, it's critical that Congress pass the KIDS Act to safeguard our kids from addictive and manipulative design and extreme and inappropriate content.”

The KIDS Act addresses dangerous trends and creates protections for online users under 16 by:

Damaging Design Features:

  • Banning “auto-play” settings lead to prolonged and unhealthy viewing sessions on websites and apps for kids and young teens. 
  • Banning push alerts that encourage kids and young teens to pull out their devices and increase screen-time.
  • Banning badges that reward kids and young teens for increasing their time spent on an app or website.

Amplification of Harmful Content:

  • Prohibiting kids and young teen websites from amplifying violent, inappropriate, and dangerous content.
  • Requiring websites to implement mechanisms for users to report instances in which the website recommends harmful content to kids and young teens.

Manipulative Marketing:

  • Prohibiting websites from recommending content that includes host-selling, or influencer marketing, such as “unboxing videos” to children and young teens. 
  • Prohibiting websites from recommending content that involves nicotine, tobacco, or alcohol to children and young teens. 
  • Prohibiting websites from exposing children and young teens to marketing with imbedded interactive elements.
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