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US Congress Proposes Sweeping Child Online Protection Legislation, Paves Way For Digital ID Infrastructure

by Jacob M. Thompson


Bipartisan legislative efforts are underway in the US House of Representatives to adopt new versions of two laws originally drawn up to deal with the safety of youth online.

The following report is by Reclaim The Net:

But the fear is that the bills introduced now – H.R.7891, the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), and H.R. 7890, the Children and Teens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) 2.0 – will facilitate implementation of a future sweeping age verification and digital ID push.

These concerns are raised because KOSA is directing the secretary of commerce, together with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to conduct a study “evaluating the most technologically feasible methods and options for developing systems to verify age at the device or operating system level.”

At this stage of the proceedings, the study will not be used to mandate that platforms implement “an age gating or age verification functionality” – however, once the authorities have at their disposal the technical solutions to do it, some observers expect it could be used for a more aggressive legislative push at the federal level later on.

The key difference between the existing Senate version of KOSA and the proposed House bill is found under the “care of duty” component, with the House text now defining that to apply to “high impact online companies” with $2.5 billion or more annual revenue, and 150+ million global monthly active users over at least three months of the preceding year.

The Senate version refers to platforms “reasonably likely to be used by a minor” (employing 500 or more people, with gross annual revenue of $50 million or more).

Regarding the way COPPA’s new version could pave the way for more expansive age verification online, it seeks to impose new forms of data collection restrictions concerning minors, and also shield them from targeted advertising…


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