A new bill would ban anyone under 16 from using social media


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Below: A judge reportedly struck down the FTC’s Meta-VR suit, and the agency comes up with a drug discount app for data leaks. First:

The movement to keep kids off social media altogether

A growing number of US policymakers and federal officials are trying to keep children and young teenagers off social media altogether, citing growing concerns that the platforms can harm their well-being and mental health. It’s a notable increase in the rhetoric about keeping children safe online, which has largely focused on establishing new digital protections.

The push gained traction after the US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Sunday that he believes 13 is “too early” for kids to join apps like Instagram and TikTok, which he said can create a “distorted environment” that “often does harm” to children

Since then, other officials including Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) and the Federal Trade Commission Alvaro Bedoya have either voiced support or shared the remarks on Twitter. Jim Steyera prominent child safety advocate, called the comments “tremendous.”

“This is exactly the kind of leadership we need from our Federal government when it comes to educating the public about the impact of technology on society,” Steyer, whose advocacy group Common Sense Media has close ties to the White House, said in an emailed statement.

Now the movement is fueling legislation on Capitol Hill: House Republicans are introducing a bill Thursday to ban children and teens under 16 from using social media.

The bill represents one of the most rigorous efforts yet to keep children off major platforms, going far beyond narrower bipartisan proposals to set up guardrails for children online.

The measure, led by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), would require companies to verify the ages of users and allow parents to sue them if they fail to keep those under 16 off their sites. It would also authorize federal and state agencies to enforce the standards.

The proposal sets a high bar: While lawmakers have introduced bills to expand restrictions on practices like targeting ads to users under 18, few have called for outright bans.

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Stewart compared the effect that social media can have on children and teenagers to that of drugs, a refrain that is becoming increasingly common in Washington.

“We protect our children from drinking, from smoking, from driving. They can’t drive when they’re 12,” he said in an interview. “We should protect them from the effects of social media.”

Many social media platforms, including TikTok and Twitter, already prohibit users under 13 from joining, but some like YouTube offers a separate service designed for children, while others such as Instagram have thought as he launched his own.

Those plans have faced intense scrutiny from child safety advocates and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who have said they don’t trust the companies to protect their children.

Stewart’s proposal would open companies to liability if they fail to adequately verify the ages of users and is likely to pose significant compliance challenges for companies that have poured significant funds into developing verification tools they acknowledge may be lacking.

Many children and teenagers do not have identification, while others find solutions to join platforms. In turn, some platforms have resorted to asking users to provide their birthdays.

Technology industry leaders have urged lawmakers to help those efforts by drafting legislation to establish standards or best practices for age verification. Michael BeckermanTikTok’s head of US public policy told Senate lawmakers at a 2021 hearing that any effort to update children’s privacy protections should include “a better way to verify age across the internet.”

NetChoice, a trade group representing social networks including TikTok and Twitter, pushed back at the surgeon general’s comment that 13 is “too early” for children to be on social media, arguing that such decisions should be left to parents.

“Parents, not the government, not Silicon Valley, know what’s best for their families,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice vice president and general counsel. “Rather than dooming or trying to bridge the gap between parents and their families, the government should be providing tools and education on how to best use this new technology, not demonizing it.”

Industry and human rights groups alike have warned that cutting children and teenagers off from social media could backfire by removing access to positive digital resources.

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“For many children, especially LGBTQ youth, who may have unsupportive parents or live in a conservative area, the internet and social media are a lifeline,” said. Evan Greer, director of the activist group Fight for the Future. “There are very real concerns about the ways in which the business practices of Big Tech companies are harming children, but we need better solutions than just cutting children off from online community and educational resources.”

A judge rejected the FTC’s bid to block Meta’s VR deal

A federal judge in California has ruled out a deal by Facebook parent company Meta to buy virtual reality company Within Unlimited, my colleagues Naomi Nix and Cat Zakrzewski a report The decision deals “a blow to Democrats’ efforts to dismantle the power of Silicon Valley tech companies,” according to the report.

But in a possible silver lining for antitrust activists, “the order affirmed some of the arguments the FTC made in its case, including that acquisitions of nascent companies can hurt competition and that companies not currently in the marketplace can still have an influence on competition. marketplace.”

The decision could significantly shape how the agency approaches challenges in emerging digital markets moving forward. Bloomberg News first reported the judge’s ruling.

GoodRx leaked user health data to Facebook and Google, FTC says

The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday imposed a $1.5 million fine on GoodRx, a drug discount program, for leaking millions of users’ sensitive health information to companies like Facebook and Google without consent, Natasha Singer reports for the New York Times.

In its complaint, the FTC said GoodRx’s use of trackers and other information-sharing practices to identify users’ social media accounts for targeted medical advertising purposes ran afoul of federal regulations that require health programs to notify consumers of cybersecurity breaches. and the unauthorized disclosure of their data to a third party.

The app, which is used to find lower prices on prescriptions such as antidepressants, HIV drugs and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, said it disagreed with the regulator’s 2017 allegations but agreed to settle the case to avoid a lawsuit.

If the settlement is approved by a judge, GoodRx would be permanently prohibited from disclosing users’ health details for advertising purposes. This case marks the first time the commission has deployed its Health Notification Rule. It comes as the FTC pushes back on health privacy and security, especially in states that have moved to ban or restrict access to abortions.

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Amazon faces three fresh security citations for warehouse violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the US Department of Labor announced citations on Wednesday against Amazon after conducting inspections at three of its warehouses in Colorado, Idaho and New York, the Wall Street Journal’s. Sebastian Herrera reports

“The agency said it found Amazon exposed workers to a high risk of injuries and musculoskeletal disorders at the facilities because of the fast pace at which workers must handle packages and long hours required to complete tasks,” according to the report.

“Amazon’s operating methods create dangerous working conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health, said in a written statement.

Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesman, said in a written statement to the Wall Street Journal that the company takes the safety and health of its employees seriously and does not believe the government’s allegations reflect the reality of safety at Amazon sites. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Meta stuns Street with lower costs, big buyback, bullish selloff (Reuters)

US investors have plowed billions into China’s AI sector, report shows (Reuters)

OpenAI Will Offer New Version of ChatGPT for $20 Monthly Fee (New York Times)

Palantir CEO says Silicon Valley products have ‘flagrantly failed’ to make the world better (Bloomberg)

Google Fi says customer data was compromised by hackers (The Verge)

This software tries to spot lung cancer years earlier. Can it? (Pranshu Verma)

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host its inaugural Digital Transformation Summit on Thursday at 10 a.m.
  • The German Marshall Fund is hosting an event on the foreign policy of technology on Thursday at 10:30

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