Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he hopes to “protect kids” by advocating for legislation that would mandate social media companies only allow users who are 16 years of age or older.
The Missouri Senator has been a strong critic of social media companies and big tech alike for quite some time now; he has pushed for a complete ban on the Chinese-owned TikTok more than once.
Hawley has said TikTok is a “major security and privacy concern for every American, especially kids,” and that those storing the app on their phones are allowing various bits of information to be accessible for the Chinese Communist Party, including sensitive data such as contacts, emails, and even photos.
“For me, this is about protecting kids, protecting their mental health, protecting their safety,” Hawley reportedly told NBC News. “There’s ample evidence to this effect that big tech companies put their profits ahead of protecting kids online.”
“The whole aim of this agenda is: Let’s do something real and tangible, that is going to protect kids online and get power back to parents.”
He believes the proposal could be supported by Democrats and Republicans.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with Democrats across the aisle and over the years about this topic generally and about different pieces of this,” Hawley said. “I don’t see this as a partisan issue. I mean, this is about protecting kids from irresponsible and rapacious big tech companies. Every parent in America, whatever your political persuasion, or if you have none, can agree with that.”
Upon being asked why the federal government should get involved in such a matter rather than letting parents dictate their children’s social media use, Hawley explained that kids can easily go online to set up an account without the knowledge of mom or dad.
“The technology is changing faster than parents can keep up with.”
WATCH ➡️ Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wants to set the minimum age for creating a social media profile to 16 years old.
To enforce it, Hawley said social media companies would be required to verify users’ ages.@RayBogan with more 👇. pic.twitter.com/xbVKYxWdVq
— Straight Arrow News (@StraightArrow__) February 9, 2023
This news follows Joe Biden signing the Hawley-proposed “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” at the end of last year. The new law bans the use of TikTok on all government devices.
Certain Democrats appear to be wary of the Chinese social media app as well. Last week, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) sent a letter to Apple and Google requesting the big tech companies remove TikTok from their app stores, arguing the app poses a risk to national security.
“No company subject to CCP dictates should have the power to accumulate such extensive data on the American people or curate content to nearly a third of our population,” Bennet wrote to the companies’ CEOs. “Given these risks, I urge you to remove TikTok from your respective app stores immediately.”