The fallout from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s explosive testimony about the threat of social media to children before the Senate Commerce Committee last fall is front and center.
There is bipartisan support for Congress to ban targeted ads to children under 16, force tech companies to establish default safety tools to protect kids online, and give parents more control over web browsing. of their children.
Last week, the Commerce Committee introduced two bills for consideration: it approved the Children’s and Young People’s Voice Voting Online Privacy Protection Act and the Online Safety Act. of the children unanimously 28-0.
Haugen had shared internal documents revealing that Facebook knows its Instagram photo-sharing platform can be addictive for teens and has likely led to increased rates of eating disorders and depression.
Facebook has been asking for regulation for years, and the company certainly has the resources to follow the new rules. He also created parenting tools and reminders that prompt teens to pause or change the subject.
But a consensus is forming that Haugen was onto something.
“Using the principles of behavioral psychology, algorithm and technology companies are finding ways to keep children and teens engaged for longer periods of time,” Nusheen Ameenuddin, chairman of the Communications and Technology Council, told POLITICO. American Academy of Pediatrics media. “They feed them more content…based on their clicks, their preferences – all those things they really have no control over.”
The Children’s and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, co-sponsored by unlikely allies Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), is an update to the 1998 law on Children’s Online Privacy Protections and extends existing privacy protections for tweens to children up to 16 years old and bans advertising targeting them. It would also give children and their parents the right to view and delete information that online platforms have collected about them. The bill would give the Federal Trade Commission responsibility for law enforcement and calls for a youth privacy and marketing division within the agency that would assess how well it keeps children safe in line.
The Kids Online Safety Act, co-sponsored by another unusual couple, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Would require social media platforms to allow children and their parents to opt out of algorithms of content that fed them harmful content and disabled the addictive features of the product. The bill limits the collection of data about children, offers parents and children controls over their online experience, and restricts who can contact a child on social media. It also calls for audits and independent research to identify potential damage.
Mitch Prinstein, scientific director of the American Psychological Association, said the bill was a good starting point for a broader discussion about how children should interact with social media. “Emerging evidence suggests that the longer they are on, the more it alters the structure and function of their brain development.”
But Congress still needs to agree on the details and resolve turf battles before new legislation can be passed.
During trade panel tagging, ranking Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi said he preferred a bill that the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved by a vote of 53 to no. 2 last month which would tackle the data privacy issue more broadly, covering adults as well. as children. But the bill would override existing state rules, like California’s Consumer Privacy Act, drawing opposition.
Welcome back to future impulse, where we explore the convergence of healthcare and technology. ICYMI, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has sent a letter to the FTC requesting an investigation into Amazon’s impending deal with One Medical. He wants to know if a doctor at One Medical says he has high blood pressure, will he have to worry about being bombarded with advertisements for Whole Foods supplements? Dystopian! What do you think?
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HOUSE OK TELEHEALTH EXTENSION — The House voted 416 to 12 last week to pass a bill by Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney that would maintain expanded access to Medicare telehealth through the end of 2024.
The overwhelming vote was a major boon for telehealth advocates. The legislation would allow Medicare as well as federally licensed health centers and rural health clinics to continue to cover virtual visits from patients’ homes. It would also extend a waiver allowing patients to avoid in-person mental health visits.
The relaxed rules are currently set to end five months after the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency, which could occur as early as October.
Republicans upset with the process: GOP lawmakers were appalled that House leaders bypassed bipartisan negotiations and the committee process to put Cheney’s bill on the floor, even though most Republicans voted for the legislation.
Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) told POLITICO the House should have passed his bill, the Telehealth Modernization Act, which would make some relaxed rules permanent.
And after: Cheney’s bill is in the Senate, where it is expected to have bipartisan support. Still, a hectic legislative schedule lies ahead, and telehealth legislation likely won’t budge until the “lame duck” session after the midterm elections, a Senate aide told POLITICO.
UNITEDHEALTH TACKLES THE DOJ — The antitrust lawsuit challenging UnitedHealth Group’s acquisition of Change Healthcare is pending before Federal District Court Judge Carl Nichols in Washington, D.C.
The DOJ filed suit in February, arguing the acquisition would give UnitedHealth insight into competitors’ operations. Change Healthcare provides technology tools to healthcare systems and insurers that help them process claims. United argues that the DOJ’s argument is based on “speculative theories”.
The case will highlight how the Biden administration is changing traditional antitrust thinking to deal with technology.
At the American Bar Association’s conference on healthcare law earlier this year, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Andrew Forman of the Antitrust Division provided insight into his view of market power in healthcare. “The division has several competitive issues, including head loss – direct competition, exploitation of competitively sensitive information, and reduced innovation.
The trial will likely end next week.
DATA BROKERS NOT BONDING TO THE PRESSURE — Democrats are pushing data brokers to stop collecting information about intended parents to protect them from potential legal consequences if they seek abortions in states where the procedure is now banned, but they have largely eliminated, reports Alfred Ng of POLITICO.
Brokers have long sold information on pregnant women, including their status during the trimester and preferred delivery methods. It’s valuable to companies that make and sell the products that new parents need.
Abortion bans that went into effect after the Supreme Court transferred abortion rights to states in June target abortion providers, but abortion rights groups say states could also weaponize information against people who have abortions.
“It is grossly irresponsible for a data broker to stick its head in the sand and claim that its business of tracking pregnancies and selling this information for profit will not be weaponized by far-right extremists” said Ron Wyden of Oregon, who along with several other Senate Democrats in June introduced the My Body, My Data Act to limit the collection of reproductive health data, in an email.
In the absence of federal data privacy legislation telling them they must, many brokers do not change their practices.
POLITICO found more than 30 lists offering data on expectant parents or selling them access via email blasts. Most were updated after the court ruling.
Joe Pych, CEO of NextMark – a directory of marketing mailing lists – said there was no problem hosting such lists.
“As far as I know, there is no law today prohibiting prenatal mailing lists. If that were to change and this type of data became illegal, we would work with providers to remove these listings,” Pych said.
FTC SUES META ON VIRTUAL REALITY APP – The Federal Trade Commission sued last week to block Facebook’s parent company Meta from acquiring Within, the developer of a virtual reality fitness app, POLITICO’s Josh Sisco reports.
The lawsuit appears to be a thorn in the side of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his quest to grow the Metaverse. Within creates fitness app Supernatural, which uses Meta’s virtual reality headset to help users stretch and train.
The move is another sign of aggressive action by FTC Chair Lina Khan, who wants to expand traditional notions of antitrust law to keep big tech companies from getting even bigger.
“The FTC’s case is based on ideology and speculation, not evidence,” Facebook spokesman Stephen Peters said in a statement.
Cities are pushing to host ARPA-H headquarters. Experts don’t understand why – Lev Facher, STAT
AI predicts the shape of nearly every protein known to science — Cade Metz, The New York Times
Facebook slapped with another healthcare data privacy lawsuit – Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Healthcare Info Security