Meta and TikTok are in Congress’s crosshairs over laws that protect children

It looks like the big bipartisan push against Big Tech in the new Congress will be about protecting kids. While antitrust and privacy efforts seem to be languishing for now, several child-focused online safety bills are being introduced this session. Senate Majority Leader Chuck has reportedly signaled that passing them is a priority for him. President Joe Biden recently said the same.

And they just might pass, if this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about protecting children online is any indication. Witnesses tested about how children are harmed by online content and the platforms that help push it to a largely friendly audience of senators, some of whom authored prominent child online safety bills in previous sessions. , but the new Congress seems intent on making it happen.

For several years now, there’s been a bicameral and bipartisan consensus in Congress that something has to be done about Big Tech’s power, but not what nor how. Democrats and Republicans can’t even agree on whether Big Tech platforms moderate content too much or not enough. Now, it looks like they’ve found their cause and their victims: children.

The desire to protect kids from internet harms and abuses is stronger than ever in the 118th Congress, making it increasingly likely that at least one law that purports to do so actually gets passed. But critics say that, in practice, those bills may not help children, and may exist at the expense of free speech and privacy.

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