Yesterday, TechFreedom was joined by several leading academic experts in a coalition letter to express concerns about the threats to liberty and minors’ well-being posed by S. 3663, the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). While the goal of protecting minors from harm is laudable, how to accomplish this is a question Congress has struggled with for a quarter century because of its exceptional complexity. As written, KOSA does not account for that complexity and fails to serve anyone’s best interests.
KOSA mandates intrusive and unconstitutional age verification in several ways:
- In practice, no age verification mechanism ever developed would be reliable enough to adequately protect platforms against liability under KOSA
- The bill fails to address the risks created by requiring the collection of the sensitive identity information and biometric data that would be needed to age-verify users
- The de facto age verification mandate also violates the First Amendment rights of platforms by imposing substantial economic burden on expression
Even if platforms could somehow reliably verify the age of their users, and even if requiring such verification did not violate the First Amendment, the duty imposed on platforms by KOSA is exceedingly broad and hopelessly vague. As a result, KOSA will enable politically motivated actors to purge the Internet of speech that they dislike under the guise of “protecting minors.”