During today’s markup of the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) in the Senate Commerce Committee, Senators Markey and Cantwell brought up concerns about KOSA’s threat to LGBTQ online communities. Their remarks echoed problems that LGBTQ, civil rights, and digital rights advocates have been raising since KOSA was first introduced.
“I would like to say that over the past few months I’ve heard concerns from my constituents and civil rights groups about the Kids Online Safety Act and its potential impact on LGBTQ youth and other online communities. I commend the authors for their work on the bill, but I want to continue to work to modify the bill to help fix the concerns that the LGBTQ community has been raising. More work needs to be done,” Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said.
“I’ve heard some advocates, particularly in the LGBT community, about continuing concerns with this legislation. We will continue to work with them on this,” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said.
By raising these issues, the Senators signaled that this bill has major civil rights problems that need to be addressed before the bill is voted on by the Senate. A new version of KOSA, introduced by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during today’s meeting, actually makes the bill worse, not better.
KOSA has always been a bill that makes kids less safe, not more safe, by empowering right wing attorneys general to cut kids off from lifesaving information and online resources. In any version, this harmful and misguided bill takes attention away from urgently needed efforts that would actually address the harms of Big Tech, like privacy and antitrust legislation.
In the Blackburn substitute, the section that was already too weak to prevent the bill from being weaponized against LGBTQ content has weakened further. Her version of KOSA still allows state attorneys general to dictate what content can be seen by younger users, and this would be a disaster for LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, education rights, and free expression.
Fight for the Future has been driving emails to Congress about KOSA during its #BadInternetBills week of action, which has been going viral on TikTok and other platforms. More than 200,000 people have taken action against KOSA, EARN IT, Cooper Davis, RESTRICT Act, and the STOP CSAM act. More than 2,000 volunteers, mostly young LGBTQ people, have been coordinating in a Discord server to mobilize grassroots opposition. See some of the content they’ve been creating here.
Here is an updated list of organizations opposed to KOSA:
American Civil Liberties Union
Black and Pink National
Center for Democracy & Technology
Defending Rights & Dissent
Don’t Delete Art
EducateUS: SIECUS In Action
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight for the Future
Free Speech Coalition
Freedom Network USA
Indivisible Plus Washington
Lexington Pride Center
LGBT Technology Partnership
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
National Coalition Against Censorship
Open Technology Institute
Reframe Health and Justice
Restore The Fourth
SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change
SWOP Behind Bars
The 6:52 Project Foundation, Inc.
The Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center
University of Michigan Dearborn – Muslim Student Association
WA People’s Privacy
Woodhull Freedom Foundation