The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


When safety becomes censorship

Northwest students share their opinions on the Kids Online Safety Act and its controversy in restricting Internet freedom.
Jeny Jithesh
The Kids Online Safety Act claims to “[empower] kids and parents to take control over kids’ online experiences to better protect their health and well-being,” according to Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Marsha Blackburn.

In recent years, kids’ safety on social media has become a hot topic. At the forefront of the attempts to promote safety is the Kids Online Safety Act, also known as KOSA. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn. Originally introduced in Feb. 2022 and then reintroduced in May 2023, the bill has received both widespread criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates and bipartisan support. 

BVNW senior and political science club leader Charles Sweeney weighed both perspectives on the bill.

“I think there are some positives and some negatives to it,” Sweeney said. “I personally feel that some things— restricting companies access to personal data, requiring companies to disclose information on targeted ads and algorithmically endorsed content, and not advertising illegal things such as gambling and tobacco to minors— are all good, but the bill is quite vague as to what exactly it covers.”

Despite how the bill is marketed, critics claim the bill is more concerned with policing content than holding media platforms accountable. The bill’s vague wording seems to be one of the concerns harbored by those against KOSA.

Sophomore and GSA president Mayson Kissinger noticed the overall vagueness of the bill.

“What frustrates me about this law is the wording of things and how it was leaving a lot of things up to states discretion,” Kissinger said. 

Due to the perceived flaws of this bill, petitions against the bill have been circulating social media platforms. Bad Internet Bills, a website claiming to provide people with the means to stop bills that would negatively impact internet usage, has labeled KOSA as one of the bills that should be stopped. The website provides a brief explanation of the bill and the consequences of it, and then allows users to send an email to their lawmakers.

Representative Sharice Davids was contacted in regards to KOSA, but she did not respond for comment.

The criticism of this bill from various human rights organizations is the main reason why the bill did not go through when it was first introduced. In 2023, it was reintroduced after Senator Blumenthal and Senator Blackburn rewrote the bill.

Based on a one-pager from Senator Blumenthal explaining the 2022 version of KOSA, the bill aims to “provide families with the tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against threats to children’s health and well-being online.” The bill would “create accountability” among social media platforms, meaning the bill would hold these platforms liable for any content minors can view. Furthermore, this bill would place the power of deciding what standards social media platforms must follow in the hands of state attorney generals, not the minors or their parents whom the bill claims to protect. 

“I’m very in support of keeping children safe online, making sure companies are held accountable and not exploiting minors online. I’m not a fan of them censoring things people want to know about,” Kissinger said.

“I’m very in support of keeping children safe online, making sure companies are held accountable and not exploiting minors online. I’m not a fan of them censoring things people want to know about.”

— Mayson Kissinger


KOSA’s word choice allows states and state attorneys to decide what content falls under the guidelines of being harmful. This lack of guidelines could potentially lead to the censoring of content that state attorneys disagree with; at the forefront of this censorship could be content related to the LGBTQ+ community. In an interview with Family Policy Alliance, a conservative Christian organization, Senator Blackburn stated “Protecting minor children from the transgender in this culture should be a top priority.”

For Kissinger, this bill— if passed —would cause a rift in the community and affect how the GSA operates. 

“It [would] prevent me from doing research and telling people about history and creating a community. It [would] divide the community,” Kissinger said.

The censorship of LGBTQ content could extend as far as to censor the resources on the internet that exist to help LGBTQ youth. Many of these resources are life-saving for young people, and the inability to access these resources could have dire consequences.

“It’s important resources being blocked off from the general public,” Kissinger said, “Now, they can’t find any resources to explore themselves. You’re isolating children [from] figuring out who they are, and that’s really just so harmful to their mental health.”

The complexity behind mental disorders is a fact that keeps this bill from being effective in reality. While the bill is based on a much-needed safety issue, the execution is controversial. 

“I still think there are some good aspects of this bill; mostly ones that limit what companies can do with your data, with algorithms. But overall, I think it needs to be changed or not passed,” Sweeney said.

Though there are positive aspects within the bill, the overall premise is censorship and not safety.

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About the Contributors
Nafsiya Hafiz
Nafsiya Hafiz, Writer
Nafsiya is a junior and a writer for “The Express.” This is her second year on staff. Outside of newspaper, Nafsiya plays the clarinet and draws up “lesson plans” for the Writing Club at BVNW. She hopes to participate in a variety of clubs throughout the school year. In her freetime, Nafsiya enjoys crocheting, reading, hanging out with friends, and listening to music. She is excited to continue writing for “The Express” and is looking forward to the year!
Jeny Jithesh
Jeny Jithesh, Online Editor
Jeny Jithesh is a senior and Online Editor of “The Express” and BVNWnews. This is her second year on staff as a writer. Outside of newspaper, Jeny is serving as the President of FBLA and KAY Club and participates in Student Government, NHS, NEHS, and Quill & Scroll. In her free time, Jeny loves going on walks with her parents, hanging out with friends, painting, and traveling. She is looking forward to contributing to BVNWNews as an editor and writer!

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