Parents of more than 100 trans and gender-expansive children are urging lawmakers to turn their back on the “dangerous and misguided” Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) currently winding its way through Congress. In a fiery open letter shared with Gizmodo, the parents said KOSA, which is intended to shield kids from the harms of social media, would actually make their kids less safe and cut them off from potentially lifesaving resources and communities. “Big Tech is hurting our kids,” they added. “KOSA would hurt them even more.” Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and President Biden himself have rallied around KOSA in recent months as a potential saving grace in response to a steady stream of reports showing various ways Big Tech platforms can harm young users and contribute to a worrying rise in depression and anxiety.
Kids Online Safety Act
Next week, Congress plans to move a bill forward that is opposed by dozens of organizations, digital rights protectors, LGBTQ+ activists, and human rights defenders: the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). As we’ve written before, KOSA would lead to censorship and privacy invasions for all social media users. But the most impacted groups will be young people, who the bill purports to help by banishing to a second-class internet. What’s often been left out of the debate over KOSA is how young people feel about this. In fact, many teenagers already oppose the bill. Young TikTok users have been rallying one another to call and email legislators to push back on the bill, and videos describing what’s wrong with KOSA have received hundreds of thousands of views.
Louisiana just banned abortion at six weeks, before many people even know they’re pregnant, while also saying 16-year-old girls are mature enough to marry. Arkansas says there’s no need for employers to check the age of workers they hire. As one state legislator put it, “There’s no reason why anyone should get the government’s permission to get a job.” And Wisconsin says 14-year-olds, sure, can serve alcohol. Iowa says they can shift loads in freezers and meat coolers. Simultaneously and in the same country, we have a raft of legislation saying that young people should not be in charge of what they look at online. Bone saws: cool. TikTok: bad.