Houchin Introduces Bill to Better Protect Kids Online

Congresswoman Erin Houchin (R-IN-09). (Provided Photo)

(Washington, D.C.) – Education and Workforce Committee Member Congresswoman Erin Houchin (R-IN-09), together with Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Kim Schrier (D-WA), and Larry Buschon (R-IN) have introduced the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA).

This bipartisan legislation will provide kids and parents with the safeguards, tools, and transparency they need to better protect against serious online threats to children’s health and emotional wellbeing.

A companion to this legislation authored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has been marked up in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“I am honored to be working with this group of legislators in championing the Kids Online Safety Act in the House of Representatives,” expressed Rep. Houchin. “This legislation holds immense importance for children, parents, and families alike. As a mother of three, I have witnessed firsthand the influence of technology in our children’s lives, both at home and in the classroom. Recognizing that our children will continue to be exposed to technology and the internet, it is incumbent that we ensure their safety and well-being. I am dedicated to advocating for safeguards that prioritize the protection of children in Indiana and across the country.”

KOSA delineates a series of required safeguards that Big Tech must take to protect minors under the age of 17. The bill would:

  • Outline a set of harms to children under the age of 17 requiring Big Tech companies and large online video games to take reasonable measures to prevent and mitigate, including promotion of suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and certain unlawful products for minors (i.e., narcotic drugs, tobacco products, gambling, and alcohol).
  • Direct covered entities to implement controls to protect against stalking and exploitation of children.
  • Require covered platforms to provide parents with tools to help manage a minor’s use of a platform, including options to control safety settings and track their time.
  • Improve transparency by requiring an annual public report identifying the risks of harm to minors.
  • Require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Education to issue guidance to support covered platforms on compliance and address emerging harms to minors.

“Teens are constantly connected through devices and their reality is a blend of virtual and real-world experiences, which are proven to exacerbate isolation and negative social interactions such as bullying,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “We’ve seen far too many children succumb to tragedy after being exposed to harmful online content and behaviors. Through multiple Congressional hearings with whistleblower testimonies, it is clear that there is widespread, bipartisan consensus that Big Tech has failed to mitigate the risks, improve transparency, empower parents and safeguard their youngest users. Our legislation will require them to do so.”

“With over 65 Senate co-sponsors, the overwhelming bipartisan support for the Kids Online Safety Act is clear. Now that the legislation has passed the Senate Commerce Committee and is ready to advance out of the Senate, we are pleased that the House will begin consideration of this life-saving bill. I thank Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Kathy Castor, Erin Houchin, and Kim Schrier for their willingness to take this fight up in the House. We must listen to the kids, parents, experts, and advocates, and finally hold Big Tech accountable by passing the Kids Online Safety Act into law,” said Senator Blackburn.

(Office of Congresswoman Erin Houchin press release)