The new Senate bipartisan bill, which aims to allow parents more control over their children’s online time, is reportedly being introduced by Senators. But Congress might face new privacy and safety issues in the new metaverse.
Sens. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R.TN) and Richard Blumenthal, D-CT introduced the Kids Online Safety Act of 2222. The bill would require tech platforms to provide “parents and kids safeguards and tools to protect kids’ experiences online” and “academic researchers and non-profit organizations with access to critical datasets from social media platforms.” The legislation would also create accountability for platforms for content harmful to kids, including “an annual independent audit assessing risks to minors, their compliance with this Act, and whether the platform is taking meaningful steps.”
“Protecting our kids and teens online is critically important, particularly since COVID increased our reliance on technology,” Marsha Blackburn stated. “In hearings over the last year, Senator Blumenthal and I have heard countless stories of physical and emotional damage affecting young users, and Big Tech’s unwillingness to change. The Kids Online Safety Act will address those harms by setting necessary safety guiderails for online platforms to follow that will require transparency and give parents more peace of mind.”
The proposed metaverse may bring online harms to a new height. Metaverse gaming company Advokate Group conducted a new survey and found that Americans are distrusting Meta (formerly Facebook) in order to have control over their metaverse information. But while 77 percent of Americans interested in the metaverse distrust Facebook and 87 percent would prefer a decentralized blockchain to Meta control of metaverse data, more than half of survey respondents intend to spend over three hours daily in a metaverse, ZDNet reported. This report suggests that Congress could be in a greater privacy-and safety battle than the current reality of social media.
However, it is possible to have problems with Congress expecting them to fix online harms. Blumenthal is one of the many Democratic senators who have called for more censorship online. The new legislation also seems to be based on some recommendations made by leftist activist and censorship advocate turned Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen, The Washington Post stated. The Heritage Foundation’s recently released Combating Big Tech’s Totalitarianism: A Road Map provided multiple recommendations for reining in Big Tech beyond the federal government.
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