The Brief: Sen. Ed Markey proposed The Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act as a way to regulate the media that children are exposed to online.


Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts proposed a bill on Wednesday to protect children from dangerous and inappropriate content online. This piece of legislation, the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act is designed to reduce the amount of harmful content children are exposed to online and calls for more transparency on the issue from tech companies.

This bill is set to update the Children’s Television Act of 1990, which limited TV advertising to children. If passed, the KIDS Act will regulate “manipulative and damaging design features” that push kids to continue to consume media, such as autoplay features. It will set rules around what advertisements kids see online and include regulations to prevent algorithms from suggesting extreme content to children. If implemented, KIDS will require that companies provide parents with guidance for identifying “kid healthy content” and establish incentives for “positive content creation.” In addition, KIDS will require tech companies to be more transparent about automated and algorithmic systems, as enforced by the FTC.

In a statement before Common Sense’s Truth About Tech Conference in Washington, D.C., Sen. Markey said: “While kids’ technology use and media consumption have exploded in recent years, our laws have failed to keep pace.” He announced: “I’m proud to soon introduce the KIDS Act to combat manipulative design features, unhealthy marketing practices, and amplification of harmful content that make the internet a gauntlet of hazards for children today.”

This proposed legislation comes in the wake of widely publicized stories about kids being subject to disturbing content and harassment online. The live streaming of tragedies and extreme acts of violence such as the Christchurch terrorist attacks are something that no one, especially not children should stumble upon in a social media feed. While internet safety and privacy measures can be helpful in mitigating risks for children online, this legislation paves out rules designed specifically to protect children from being bombarded with harmful content.