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Unpopular Opinion, The Kids Online Safety Act is Going to Harm More Kids than it Protects

If you’ve not heard about the Kids Online Safety Act, there’s a good rundown of why it’s not what most people think it is on Techdirt.

Senator Blumenthal Pretends To Fix KOSA; It’s A Lie

There are two things in all of these proposals to “make the internet safe for kids” that only worsen things for many kids and adults.

  1. First, any identity verification system for adults will end with identities stolen and people’s internet usage tracked by malicious actors. Having to prove your identity before you access most parts of the internet is unacceptable. It’s a violation of privacy and free speech, which includes the right to speak anonymously. Systems like this are a target for hackers and scammers. This bill will harm plenty of adults who are doing nothing illegal.
  2. Secondly, kids will be unable to access information vital to their well-being. As Techdirt has pointed out already, the Republican sponsors of this bill are hoping to use it to block LGBTQ kids from accessing any information. That’s just a start. Are kids looking for mental health information? That is not going to happen. Kids who are being abused are looking for information and resources to escape. Nope. That won’t be available to them.

Let me prove it to you because some social media is already trying to comply, and I think this is a preview of what is to come.

As many of you know, I run a Facebook page with the same name as this blog, Child Abuse Survivor. I also have a secondary profile with the same name. If you click on either of those links, you will be taken directly to them. If, however, you are on Facebook and want to search using that name (or anything about child abuse survivors), you won’t get to any of those resources that might provide information for you.

Error message from Facebook stating that child abuse is illegal with no search results. Pin

Your choices – Report abuse or a page that encourages you to get help to avoid abusing children. If you’re a kid who has been abused and want to connect with other survivors or read information about healing, etc.? You won’t get anything from a Facebook search. It’s blocked. Content that might talk about surviving child abuse is too dangerous, I guess.

This is why the idea that we can block access to content about abuse, LGBTQ information, mental health resources, etc., is going to end up making it harder for the people who need that information and need connection to get what they need.

I get it. The people who write these laws live in a world where kids all have a loving family who cares about them and want only to protect them from the evil that exists “out there.” They will provide whatever help and information their kids need, and there’s no need for them to navigate the wildness of the internet.  But we make information available to kids online because that’s not their reality. They don’t have supportive parents, they get kicked out for being gay, they are being abused at home, they are dealing with mental health issues their parents refuse to acknowledge, and they are often alone in trying to get help.

Those kids need an open internet. As a teen, I would have benefited from having an open internet, but it didn’t exist yet. So, I wrongly assumed child abuse was something only happening in my family and kept my mouth shut about it.

There are ways to protect kids. I wrote about them just yesterday. We enact rules that create fewer vulnerable kids. This isn’t the way.

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