Sen. Markey Seeks to Expand Kids TV Rules to Edge

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), author of the Children's Television Act wants to extend and expand those regulations to better cover edge providers' kid-directed content as well.

He is unveiling the bill Thursday (April 4) at the Truth About Tech Conference, sponsored by Common Sense, which has been working with Markey on the bill, The Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act.

The bill would limit marketing, incentivize kid-friendly content, and crack down on "harmful" content. The Federal Trade Commission would be the cop on the new kids online beat.

Common sense describes the bill as addressing "the disconnect between existing laws and today's reality to extend vital values and protections of the 1990 Children's Television Act to cover all media platforms and promote digital well-being."

Markey has been active on the children's media front. He has also proposed updating his Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), has called on Facebook to stop paying teens for data, and has called on the FTC to investigate Google Play and in-app marketing to kids.

"While kids' technology use and media consumption have exploded in recent years, our laws have failed to keep pace," said Markey in a statement. "I'm proud to introduced the KIDS Act to combat manipulative design features, unhealthy marketing practices, and the amplification of harmful content that makes the internet a gauntlet of hazards for children today."

Specifically, the bill would:

1. "Stop manipulative and damaging design features that keep kids glued to the screen.

2. "Limit marketing and commercialization; create rules to limit the method and the content of ads that appear in front of kids.

3. "Prevent the amplification of harmful content; enshrine rules to address the use of algorithms that push extreme content in front of kids.

4. "Require platforms to provide parents with clear guidance on kid-healthy content (something Common Sense specialized in).

5. "Create incentives for positive content creation.

6. "Require transparency and strong enforcement; designate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the law."

"Comprehensive legislation on children's media is a step toward addressing the much larger and more pressing reality we all face today: the growing influence of tech on our kids and its unintended consequences," said Common Sense CEO Jim Steyer. "We need comprehensive and enforceable rules that reflect the current media landscape to safeguard children's programming and ensure the well-being of kids and generations to come."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.