Microsoft Endorses Controversial Kids Safety Bill

Microsoft on Tuesday endorsed the Kids Online Safety Act, a controversial bill that would broadly regulate how social media platforms display ads and content to minors the platforms know or should know are under 17.

The bill “is a tailored, thoughtful measure that can support young people to engage safely online,” Microsoft vice president and general counsel Brad Smith said in posts on LinkedIn and X, formerly Twitter.

“We must protect youth safety and privacy online and ensure that technology – including emerging technologies such as AI – serves as a positive force for the next generation,” Smith wrote, adding that the Kids Online Safety Act “provides a reasonable, impactful approach to address this issue.”

Microsoft's endorsement comes on the eve of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding online sexual exploitation of minors.



The Kids Online Safety Act would require social platforms to take “reasonable measures” to prevent potential harms associated with social media use when displaying material to users the platforms know or should know are 16 or younger. The proposed law would task the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general with enforcement.

Some youth advocates including Fairplay support the bill, arguing it will help protect teens from eating disorders, online bullying and other harms.

Bill co-sponsor Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) has also attributed adolescents' mental health issues to social media platforms.

“Record levels of hopelessness and despair -- a national teen mental health crisis -- have been fueled by black box algorithms featuring eating disorders, bullying, suicidal thoughts, and more,” Blumenthal stated last year, when he and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) reintroduced the bill.

But numerous digital rights organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation oppose the proposed law, arguing it would violate the First Amendment.

One concern is the measure could prevent teens from accessing content protected by free speech principles. In general, the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing a range of content that law enforcement officials like attorneys general might consider harmful -- ranging from photos associated with eating disorders, to “hate speech,” to material discussing drug use.

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