Sen. Rick Scott Introduces Legislation to Hold Big Tech Accountable, Keep Teens Safe
March 7, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott reintroduced his Safe Social Media Act and Data Algorithm and Transparency Agreement (DATA) Act to hold Big Tech companies accountable for the malicious content spread on their platforms and help keep teens safe while using social media. Last Congress, Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky requesting information on CDC studies and actions to address the extended use of social media by American children and young adults, and its potential impact on their health and wellbeing.
Senator Rick Scott said, “Across America, kids are spending more time on the internet and on social media now than ever before. The terrible COVID lockdowns only exacerbated this problem. Now, social media companies are taking advantage of this to gather and sell Americans’ personal data, and manipulate impressionable young Americans with disastrous, and sometimes deadly, consequences. We must take action now to better understand the impacts of extended social media use on children and teens. My Safe Social Media Act and DATA Act will make sure the federal government studies the risks of extended social media use, and hold Big Tech accountable by requiring greater transparency regarding its collection of millions of young Americans’ data. I urge my colleagues to support both of these commonsense bills that will take the necessary steps to keep teens safe while using social media.”
The Safe Social Media Act requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in coordination with the CDC, to conduct a study on the effects of social media use among American teenagers and children. If signed into law, this bill will:
- Require FTC, in conjunction with the CDC, to conduct a study on social media use among individuals under the age 18, and report:
- What personal information is collected by social media platforms;
- How their personal information is being used;
- How often they use social media daily;
- Differences in the use of social media for various age groups;
- The mental health effects linked to the use of social media; and
- Potential harmful effects from extended social media use.
- Require FTC to submit to Congress a report on the findings of the study, including any recommended policy changes based on such findings.
The DATA Act will increase transparency by requiring Big Tech platforms, like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, to receive express consent to use Americans’ personal information. The DATA Act also provides Americans with legal recourse against these companies if they believe their right to privacy has been violated. Currently, tech companies capitalize on algorithms to manipulate users, pushing them toward content the algorithm believes they would like or be interested in. These companies are also gathering massive amounts of personal data – and users have little to no control over how their data is used. If signed into law, this bill will:
- Require any internet platform, with an active monthly user base of 30 million or more U.S. users, that uses algorithms to increase or decrease the availability of content on its platform to:
- Obtain user consent to collect data of the user’s preferences, habits, etc.;
- Allow users to revoke or withdraw prior consent to data collection, and to request any user data previously collected be deleted or removed;
- Obtain user consent to sell, share, or convey user data to a third-party entity;
- Allow users to revoke or withdraw prior consent to sell, share, or convey the user’s data to a third-party entity;
- Provide a plain language notice to users of the above requirements (in addition to any terms of service notifications), which will appear each login, unless affirmatively waived by the user.
- Establish a private right of action: if a platform provider violates any of these conditions, any individual user may file a federal lawsuit, and is entitled to minimum monetary damages of $5,000 per violation, plus any actual damages and attorney’s fees.