KOSA Thought Dump

Some initial collected thoughts about KOSA


This is gonna be a different kind of post. I wanted to simply share some of the notes I took as I was digging through the full text of the Kids Online Safety Act, a proposed bill that will severely impact speech and queer rights on the web if passed.

Dozens of human rights organizations have already come out against this bill, but it has bipartisan support in the US and is moving forward regardless. This is not the first time a bill of this type has cropped up, and it won't be the last. But each time, there have been large scale efforts to prevent its passage.

I will be doing a more in-depth analysis post and video here on Stuff Keeps Happening, but I only have so much bandwidth at the moment, so instead, here is a dump of my notes.

Section summary (bias warning, this is engineered to sound approachable): https://www.blackburn.senate.gov/services/files/5B382051-EF50-4F88-8C2E-4A159FDF97B9

Full text: https://www.blackburn.senate.gov/services/files/D89FC49B-0714-4124-B8B1-4F35A85F5E02

Open letter from nearly 100 organizations when this bill was originally proposed: https://www.fightforthefuture.org/news/2022-11-28-letter-90-lgbtq-and-human-rights-organizations-oppose-kosa

Note that the bill has been slightly altered since then in response to the letter, but the alterations were nowhere near comprehensive enough to be called actual remediation.

Concerns cited by CNBC article

For example, the groups worried the bill would add pressure for online platforms to “over-moderate, including from state attorneys general seeking to make political points about what kind of information is appropriate for young people.”

Thought dump as I read the bill

  • Pretty much all of Section 3 is deeply abusable; Lots of room for interpretation which will be combined with section 11(b)(1)(A) to just say "this is exploitation"
  • Companies already barely meet legal requirements (think GDPR) they're gonna fuck up these implementations
  • This of course shouldn't be a problem in the first place because social networks shouldn't be giant massive fucking companies
  • This bill has a bunch of rules about how to properly advertise to minors (See Sec 5(c)(1)); we shouldn't allow advertising to children, PERIOD
  • Lots of stuff about invasive parental controls. This is basically a techno-helicopter-parent bill and will destroy valuable avenues that vulnerable people have to seek help and support
  • Sec 10(a)(1)(B) talks about a plan to make a report eventually providing insight on how to prevent abuse of parental controls
  • And then in 10(c)(1) they clarify that its literally just guidance and not requirements
  • I'm spooked by the research allowances, where they plan to give licenses to conduct research on collected data sets. This happens already but the wording in this bill makes it sound like they'll allow pretty unfettered access to data generated by minors
  • Age Verification is a HARD PASS
  • This bill will create a "study" into how to do age verification; They want it done in one year which is not enough time to coordinate and come to some kind of actual "reasonable" solution
  • Attorneys General of states can just bring arbitrary lawsuits claiming violations of this act
  • Establishment of the Kids Online Safety Council spooks the hell out of me

Also, ass covering happens in Sec 14(b)(1-2) which reads:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require—the affirmative collection of any personal data with respect to the age of users that a covered platform is not already collecting in the normal course of business; or a covered platform to implement an age gating or verification functionality

Things that don't totally suck

  • Requirements for platforms to publish reports on usage and whatnot if they host enough active monthly users
  • However its asking for data to be anonymized which is gonna be busted

Calls to Action

Stop KOSA: https://www.stopkosa.com/

Explore things like Mastodon, or make your own Blog, or even go as far as learning to make a website

Learn about RSS and how to use RSS readers to follow updates and such. I personally use https://inoreader.com but there's a ton of them, many of them are free.

I'll expand more on the "explore more of the internet" side of things in a future video / post.

Subscribe to Stuff Keeps Happening

Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Jamie Larson