Commentary: Giving the FTC More Power Won’t Keep Kids Safe Online

by Raul Lopez


We have seen a rise in parents concerned about social media’s impact on our children across Tennessee and America. As a proud parent and the chairman of Latinos for Tennessee, I firmly believe that parents must play a central role in ensuring the safety of our children online. I also firmly believe in states’ rights and that when it comes to enforcing legislation to protect our children, I trust Tennessee’s own Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti much more than the bureaucrat-heavy Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

I have previously written that the well-being of future generations depends on our federal representatives taking appropriate action to protect children by empowering parents. This issue has become even more pressing as children increase their daily screen time. As a leader in the Latino community, I worry because, “Latino adolescents have a higher rate of social media use” and “face greater risks of experiencing adverse mental health outcomes,” according to the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University.

Federal legislators seemed to have realized the time-sensitivity of this growing issue because democrats have recently introduced new language for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which Senators Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have been working on in a bi-partisan manor for more than two years.

While I applaud these attempts by our representatives in Washington, this newly forced language slapped onto the bill by democrats in KOSA, unfortunately, removes a key aspect that is necessary to keep children safe – the ability for State Attorneys General to enforce the duty of care provision within the bill. Instead, the new KOSA language would provide the Biden Administration’s FTC with that enforcement authority. This seismic shift in KOSA’s language would dramatically change how the bill would protect children and further empower the Biden FTC, which has been out of control, attempting to advance its progressive policy agenda.

In Tennessee, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has done a fantastic job in standing up for Tennesseans. He should be the one to have a say when it comes to protecting children online, not Biden administration bureaucrats in Washington, DC. The same goes for states around our country where their own attorney general should have the say – and not the Biden administration’s FTC. This power grab move by Democrats is simply wrong.

Earlier this year, the House Judiciary Committee released a report, “Internal FTC Documents and Testimony Reveal Abuse of Power, Misuse of Resources, and Culture of Fear Under Chair Lina Khan”, which highlights my concerns around giving the FTC a blank check for enforcement authority. The report found Chair Lina Khan continually neglected and mismanaged the agency in order to advance her own personal political and ideological aims. FTC managers also, “expressed concern that Chair Khan was making decisions for headlines, and not making decisions to win cases.”

Federal legislation should address concerns about the harm of digital platforms and empower parents and state Attorneys General, not federal agencies. We need Congress to pass legislation that is lead by common sense policies such as applying parental consent at the app store level across platforms – allowing parents to ensure their children remain shielded from unnecessary harms on the internet. Any other legislation should give more power back to the state level and away from unelected federal bureaucrats at the FTC.

We do not need more interference by the federal government in our state and our parenting.

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Raul Lopez is co-founder and chairman of Latinos for Tennessee.





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