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  • Voltaire Staff

Microsoft, X champion anti-child abuse bill in works as big tech stays in dock



While other leaders of the big tech faced heat in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Microsoft proactively threw its weight behind Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, which is still in works and is aimed at safeguarding children from the risks associated with social media.


Microsoft President Brad Smith on Wednesday came out in support of the bill , which is yet to be agreed to in its entirety by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


"Technology can be a powerful tool for learning, creativity, communication, and social good, but can equally pose significant challenges and risks for young users. We must protect youth safety and privacy online and ensure that technology – including emerging technologies such as AI – serves as a positive force for the next generation," Smith said in a post on X.


He added, "The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) provides a reasonable, impactful approach to address this issue. It is a tailored, thoughtful measure that can support young people to engage safely online. Microsoft supports this legislation, encourages its passage, and applauds Senators @SenBlumenthal and @MarshaBlackburn for their leadership."


X CEO Linda Yaccarino also expressed her support for the initiative.


"Senator, we support KOSA and we'll continue to make sure that it accelerates and make sure to continue to offer community for teens that are seeking that voice," responded Yaccarino when asked on Wednesday if X, formerly Twitter, would support the bill.


Critics of KOSA have raised concerns that the legislation could significantly sanitize the internet, potentially enabling censorship and inadvertently isolating young LGBTQ individuals.


Advocates for security, privacy, and free press have also highlighted the bill's potential impact on encryption, underscoring persistent apprehensions despite last year's revisions.


The inquiry arose when Senator Richard Blumenthal queried each tech CEO about endorsing this legislation.


The tech leaders' responses appeared peculiar as KOSA is not yet law, but Yaccarino refrained from including any qualifiers unlike her more hesitant counterparts.


Snap CEO Evan Spiegel reiterated his company's commitment to endorsing the new proposal for regulating social media apps.


"Senator, we strongly support the Kids Online Safety Act, and we've already implemented many of its core provisions," he said.


In contrast, Meta, Discord, and Tik Tok were more reserved in their responses. They either pointed to criticism from certain groups or expressed partial support for specific components of the bill.


While X and Snap are popular social apps, their influence is relatively marginal compared to a corporate giant like Microsoft.


Currently valued at approximately $3 trillion, Microsoft stands as the world's most valuable company and possesses a sophisticated understanding of policy dynamics, honed through years of navigating the intricacies of the regulatory landscape.


Microsoft likely has a distinct agenda in that unlike its counterparts testifying in Congress, Microsoft doesn't possess a conventional social media network driven by algorithms.


For Microsoft, the focus is on artificial intelligence (AI). By backing a bill that could reshape the regulatory landscape for social media companies, Microsoft aims to secure regulatory goodwill where it truly matters.

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