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Biden Endorses Legislation That Would Require Online Platforms To Check Age (and Therefore ID) Of Users

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

President Biden has endorsed KOSA (Kids Online Safety Act) – a piece of legislation that will lead to online ID checks, as well as COPPA 2.0, which is seen by opponents as an update to the already highly criticized COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).

COPPA 2.0 is bipartisan legislation that has been reintroduced by Democrat Senator Edward Markey and his Republican counterpart Bill Cassidy, and the proposal’s stated goal is to make sure the privacy of children and teenagers is better protected online.

The latest attempt to get the update through US Congress is explained by the need to curb the negative effect of social platforms and other Big Tech offerings affecting young people’s (girls and members of LGBT are especially singled out as vulnerable) mental health.

The text of the bill further accuses Big Tech of “knowingly contributing to this devastating trend” – and reaches for US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s statement from two years ago where he urged companies behind social media to “reverse this disturbing decline in young people’s mental health.”

With the stage set this way, it’s supposed to be hard to argue against the need to make a bad piece of business – COPPA – even worse.

And the problem is clearly not in (some would say, misguided and sure to fail) purported protection of youth’s mental well-being, but the privacy-invasive underpinnings behind its rules, such as to obtain verifiable parental consent (VPC).

The current iteration of the bill also speaks of companies’ “actual (i.e., direct) knowledge” of harm from data collection for children younger that 13, as COPPA 2.0 raises this bar both in terms of age (13 to 16), and introduces the wording, “reasonably likely.”

That is, companies must (somehow) know that this demographic is “reasonably likely” to use particular apps and services.

As for KOSA, another bill with bipartisan support that says its goal is to protect children on the internet, critics are warning that it can be used to censor certain content simply by linking it to supposed harm to children.

It gets worse though: the bill would have people provide their government-issued photo ID in order to be able to post online.

In other words, the government “wants to know where you live” – even if you happen to be an anonymous online user. Good for the government, but bad for the foundations of the open internet.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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