Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday expressed optimism that he and Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas will be able to move forward with efforts to craft a bipartisan privacy bill.
“We have come very close, and I am very hopeful that we'll continue to make progress, because this issue of privacy is one of the central ones of our time,” Blumenthal (Connecticut) said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee about tech companies, competition and privacy.
Blumenthal and Moran have been working on a joint privacy bill since 2018, but have reportedly been unable to agree on key provisions -- including whether consumers should be able to bring private lawsuits over violations.
At Tuesday's hearing, Blumenthal and other lawmakers devoted significant time to blasting Facebook over a recent Wall Street Journal report about Instagram. That report said Facebook's internal research showed Instagram is harmful for a “sizable percentage” of young users -- especially teen girls.
Blumenthal said Tuesday that the Journal article showed the “heinously destructive” impact of Instagram on teens, while Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) asked Facebook vice president Steve Satterfield, who testified before the panel, to commit to halt plans for a children's version of Instagram.
Satterfield instead suggested that the company plans to move forward with a version of Instagram for children under 13.
“We know that tweens are online and we want them to have an experience that is a good one, and is a healthy one,” he said.