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House panel to debate privacy, kids' safety bills

A newly unveiled comprehensive data privacy bill and the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) will be in the spotlight. They will likely instigate debate around lingering concerns, despite bipartisan support for the pieces of legislation.

 

The hearing will be the first time lawmakers discuss the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA), a data privacy bill unveiled by Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) last week.

 

The bill’s preemption of state laws could emerge as a sticking point, especially among California Democrats, who have previously raised concerns about data privacy proposals that attempt to preempt privacy laws like one passed in their home state.

 

But supporters of comprehensive data privacy legislation will underscore the urgent need for new rules as lawmakers race to regulate the rapidly expanding artificial intelligence (AI) field, copies of written witness testimony show.

 

“The APRA would prevent the ‘race to the bottom’ scenario by setting a baseline level of protection that states cannot undercut. This is critical as we face a future with even more reliance on data we create and leverage in new ways with the introduction of Generative AI,” said Katherine Kuehn, a director and CISO-in-Residence at the National Technology Security Coalition, in written testimony ahead of the hearing.

 

The hearing will also feature a discussion on the House version of the Kids Online Safety Act. Children’s online safety advocates have been pushing for a vote on the bill in the Senate after it advanced with bipartisan support in July, but some groups have continued to raise concerns about the potential impact it will have on limiting teens in marginalized communities from online information. 

 

The hearing agenda includes eight other legislative proposals to be discussed, offering a range of regulations around kids’ safety and overall data privacy updates. But based on the written testimony from witnesses, APRA and KOSA are poised to be in the spotlight

 

“I promise you, passing legislation such as the bills we are talking about today will not only protect the privacy and wellbeing of all Americans, but it will make your jobs easier when legislating on future issues currently clouded by their online discourse,” Ava Smithing, director of advocacy at the Young People’s Alliance, will tell lawmakers, according to a copy of her testimony.

 

Smithing will push for a data privacy bill and the passage of KOSA as steps to help prevent other teens from facing the harms she said she faced on social media.

 

“This data they collected represents my greatest vulnerability, that I was not thin enough. I interacted with one picture of one skinny girl, once, and that’s all I was ever able to see,” Smithing said in written testimony.

 

Read more tomorrow in a full report at TheHill.com. 

 

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