Over 100 Parents of Trans Kids Sign Letter Opposing a Controversial Internet Safety Bill | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Over 100 parents of trans and gender-expanding children have written an open letter opposing the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), legislation that advocates say could widely censor trans and other marginalized communities on the internet.

KOSA was initially introduced in the Senate in 2022 by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn. The bill would burden online platforms with the legal responsibility to proactively remove content that causes anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bullying, violence, and more. Since its introduction in 2022, digital rights groups such as Fight for the Future have been warning that online platforms could face “substantial pressure to over-moderate” as a result of the bill, resulting in widespread censorship.

On Tuesday, Fight for the Future published a letter from parents of trans children to ask lawmakers and organizations “to please not put our children in further danger by advancing dangerous and misguided legislation” like KOSA.

The letter emphasizes the need for increased measures for child safety online, especially considering social media companies’ “addictive design, their intrusive surveillance, their failure to address online hate, bullying, and abuse.” But it also argues that the bill “would make our kids less safe, not more safe,” since the bill would grant state attorneys general the power to determine what content is “unsafe” for children.

“These are the same attorneys general that are actively working to ban gender affirming health care that saves kids’ lives, criminalize drag performances, and label families that accept our children as ‘groomers’ and ‘child abusers,’” the letter reads.

The letter concludes with a plea to “abandon KOSA, which is deeply flawed and faces overwhelming opposition from human rights, LGBTQ, racial justice, and civil liberties organizations.”

“Then we can work together to advance more thoughtful proposals, like privacy, antitrust, and algorithmic transparency legislation that can address the harms of Big Tech without throwing trans kids and human rights under the bus,” the letter says. “Please listen to us. Our kids’ lives are at stake.”

Although some LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations initially opposed KOSA, some organizations, such as GLAAD and HRC, have dropped their opposition following changes to the bill’s language to address concerns. Changes to the bill include a carve-out that says platforms cannot prevent minors from individually searching for content they’d like to see, including content on LGBTQ+ communities. However, Evan Greer, the director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement that the edits “do not fix the deadly flaw with the bill, which is that it gives the government the power to dictate what speech younger users can see online, and would subject everyone to increased surveillance in order to access information and speak out online.”

She also proposed several alternative solutions that would create safeguards for children online “without throwing trans kids and marginalized communities under the bus,” including stronger data privacy laws, and legislative action against “manipulative business practices like autoplay, infinite scroll, and intrusive notifications.”

“If Congress refuses to listen and consider alternatives to KOSA, they will be actively putting trans kids’ lives in danger,” Greer said.

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