Internet Censorship Won't Make Kids Safe
October 5, 2023
Today’s young people have a lot to deal with. Pandemic interruptions, social isolation, climate change, political polarization, ever-changing technology — all on top of the typical turbulence of adolescence. Studies on youth mental health outcomes show increasing loneliness and hopelessness, illustrating one thing: the kids are not alright. We all want a silver bullet for the youth mental health crisis, and some lawmakers are claiming they have one: the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA for short.
After failing to gain traction in 2022, this bipartisan bill has been revised and re-introduced by Congress — but like most solutions that claim to solve all our woes with the stroke of a pen, KOSA is too good to be true.
If passed, KOSA would allow each state’s attorney general to individually decide what parts of the internet kids can and cannot access. In fact, KOSA proponents have even openly admitted that they plan to use KOSA to block kids from LGBTQ content online.
We at the ACLU, along with other civil rights organizations and parents of queer and trans youth, have spoken out against the bill for all the ways it overreaches, suppresses our right to free information, and targets LGBTQ people. As anti-LGBTQ legislation continues to rise, KOSA is one of many censorship tools masquerading as a kids safety solution.
Joining us today to explain the consequences this bill could have for us all are Evan Greer, director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, and Cody Venzke, senior policy counsel at the ACLU.