US draft law will require companies like Facebook and Google
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US draft law will require companies like Facebook and Google to take additional steps to protect children

Senators from both ruling parties in the United States have jointly introduced legislation that would require online platforms to take a number of measures to protect minors. This will help reduce or minimize the risk of incidents involving children, from suicide to drug addiction or eating disorders.

Image source: pixel2013/pixabay.com

Image source: pixel2013/pixabay.com

so called. The Children’s Online Safety Act, drafted by members of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, aims to fundamentally transform online platforms developed by companies like Meta, Snap, Google and TikTok.

The committee has already received thousands of pages of documents for investigation, once provided by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, thanks to which it turned out that the company was investigating the issue of the impact of its platforms on minors, but did not know about the negative effects in time measures taken to protect them.

The new law will set uniform standards for platforms that are “reasonably likely” to be used by children under the age of 16. In particular, a series of safety precautions must be in place that are easily accessible to minors and/or their parents. This will limit the ability to search for minors online, limit the amount of data collected about them by tech giants, turn off algorithm-based recommendations and limit access time to media platforms.

The senators noted that similar standards are already in place in Europe and that the law is broadly similar to other local regulations designed to regulate the safe use of other types of products. It is noteworthy that the law stipulates that when opening an account, the appropriate restrictive measures are activated by default, and services are banned in any way, encouraging the disabling of protection mechanisms.

Image source: Victoria_Borodinova/pixabay.com

Image source: Victoria_Borodinova/pixabay.com

Platforms affected by the law must publish annual reports on the risks of harm caused by their services, based on independent audit data. In addition, experts from the US National Communications and Information Administration must be granted access to the data.

Unlike other laws regulating online platforms, this draft provides for the application of rules regardless of the size of Internet companies, since according to one of the senators “Responsibility isn’t a question of the number of people viewing toxic content”.

In addition, the law requires government agencies to develop best practices to protect minors. For example, the Federal Trade Commission must determine how to conduct market research involving minors. Public authorities should find the best way to accurately determine the age of users.

There is still much thought to be done before the law can become law, but because the initiative is being drafted jointly by members of both ruling parties in the United States, it has a good chance of success.

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About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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