As President Joe Biden gave his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R.FL) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgerss (R.WA), they called for stronger protection of children online.
Rubio urged Biden to prohibit TikTok, a TikTok-affiliated Chinese Communist Party in the U.S.A. tweet following the speech, in which Biden called for Big Tech to stop profiting off of children’s data and marketing to kids.
McMorris Rodgers, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on Tuesday also pushed for Biden and congressional Democrats to engage more closely with Republicans to protect children’s privacy, and welcomed Biden’s focus on the matter during the State of the Union.
“Protecting kids online starts by establishing a national privacy and data security framework and enacting legislation that stops Big Tech’s harmful abuse of power,” she said in a statement. “I welcome President Biden joining our call and urge my Democratic committee colleagues to stop dragging their feet and prioritize comprehensive privacy legislation and addressing Big Tech’s harm on kids.”
In addition to challenging social media companies, Biden in his speech praised the “courage” of Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen, apparently for leaking company documents to the media.
“As Frances Haugen, who is here tonight with us, has shown, we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit,” Biden said as Haugen smiled and clapped approvingly from loft seating. “Thank you for the courage you showed.”
Specifically, Biden called for Big Tech to strengthen privacy protections for children online, ban targeted advertising to children, and stop collecting kids’ personal data.
Lawmakers have introduced several proposals to ostensibly protect children’s online safety in recent months. As conservative anger over Big Tech’s excesses grows, the bills were introduced by lawmakers. After leaking numerous documents to the media, Haugen has called for more social media censorship. Wall Street Journal last fall.
Sens. In February, Senators. The bill would require tech platforms to give “academic researchers and non-profit organizations” access to “critical” social media data on a yearly basis pertaining to potential risks that the platforms have on minors, according to a summary of the legislation.
According to Lexology analyses of the bill, platforms would have to be able to let parents or minors opt out from algorithms that could propagate content regarding self-harm and suicide, eating disorders and sexual abuse.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC) and Blumenthal introduced in January the bipartisan Eliminating Abusive, Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology (EARN IT), Act of 2022.
That bill would remove tech companies’ Section 230 legal immunities around content related to alleged child sexual abuse. However, privacy issues have been raised by skeptics ranging in size from Edward Snowden (NSA whistleblower), to the American Action Forum’s center-right think tank.
“Threats of liability may force platforms to scan users’ communications and take away tools for encrypting communications, meaning Americans will have less protection against privacy intrusions from industry and government alike,” AAF Technology and Innovation Policy Director Jeffrey Westling wrote in a Feb. 23 blog post.
This bill directs tech companies to search user communications when they suspect child exploitation. Companies would have the same rights as state government in child exploitation investigations, and any company-obtained evidence could be inadmissible at court. Under the Fourth Amendment, such evidence can’t be prosecuted, meaning pedophiles could get off scot free, according to Westling.
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