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Privacy bills survive E&C subcommittee

May 23, 2024
Illustration of a hand in a suit holding a paper airplane legislative bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The American Privacy Rights Act and the Kids Online Safety Act advanced Thursday out of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee markup, despite members raising many tweaks they'd like to see before the bills are final.

The big picture: A new draft of APRA, released this week, has already received considerable criticism from industry and members of Congress.

  • As we reported yesterday, Speaker Mike Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Majority Whip Tom Emmer need to see major changes to APRA before offering support.
  • The Kids Online Safety Act advanced out of the subcommittee by voice vote.

What they're saying: Tech and business industry representatives still opposed to APRA need to "start being honest that they really don't want a viable solution, perhaps … but they really don't want to admit that," said E&C Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers.

Friction point: Members brought up various issues with the draft APRA bill, including definitions, civil rights, extra protections for minors and the treatment of data brokers.

  • Members said this version is stronger than it was before, but they don't yet consider it a finished product.

On KOSA, Rep. Lori Trahan said she wanted to see the bill include an original provision that would allow for independent research led by the Department of Commerce.

  • Rep. Jay Obernolte said he was concerned about KOSA's "duty of care" provision, saying it was unclear and would confuse companies.
  • Ranking Member Frank Pallone also pushed back against the duty of care language, saying he worried it "could cause social media companies to over-filter content out of an abundance of caution about legal risk, and as a result some young people could lose access to helpful and even lifesaving content."

What's next: The full committee can now take up both KOSA and APRA, but expect a lot of fighting over the details before the bills get past that step in the House.

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