Major Tech Companies Back Controversial KOSA Bill

WASHINGTON—Major technology companies have come out in support of the controversial Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which has been a point of debate between civil libertarians and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.

KOSA was introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., as a legislative response to the harms of underaged social media use and the risks of minors being active on major social networks.

Microsoft, Snap, and X, the parent company of Twitter that was renamed to reflect rebranding under Elon Musk's ownership, came out in support of the bill during a congressional hearing last week featuring technology executives from major platforms. 

“[W]e support KOSA, and we’ll continue to make sure that it accelerates and make sure to continue to offer community for teens that are seeking that voice,” said Linda Yaccarino, the chief executive officer of Musk's X. The hearing was on January 31, 2024.

Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, posted to X on January 30 that the tech giant will also support KOSA.

"The Kids Online Safety Act ... provides a reasonable, impactful approach to address this issue. It is a tailored, thoughtful measure that can support young people to engage safely online," Smith wrote.

"Microsoft supports this legislation, encourages its passage, and applauds [Sens.] Blumenthal and Blackburn for their leadership."

A spokesperson for Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, told Politico Pro on January 25 that the company supports the measure.

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Meta (the corporate parent of Facebook and Instagram), said that he appreciates the bill but stopped short of endorsing it. Executives for the U.S. branch of TikTok and Discord also provided no indication of support yet.

Shou Zi Chew, the Singaporean chief executive officer of TikTok, faced xenophobic posturing by Republicans during the hearing. 

While the intent of KOSA is noteworthy, several high-profile civil liberties organizations—namely the American Civil Liberties Union—expressed opposition to the bill due to concerns that some of its provisions could be used to censor forms of expression that are otherwise protected by the First Amendment and might pertain to abortion access information or LGBTQ+ health material.

Other civil society organizations that oppose KOSA include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, TechFreedom, and an array of LGBTQ+ groups.

AVN has reported extensively on the potential implications of KOSA becoming law. For example, Sen. Blackburn is being backed by groups like the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation, which presents KOSA as a means to censor trans material on the internet.