SOTN2022 09 Keynote with Sen. Ed Markey
9:02AM Mar 3, 2022
federal trade commission
Thank you, Daniel, so much. Thank you, to everyone who is back to reality to a certain extent, and, and thank you for existing, these are very important issues, especially in this time that we're in right now. Well, we can see all over Ukraine, you can see individual citizens with their cell phones, with their Internet devices, all helping to use that information in a way to repel an invader into their countries, this would not have been possible 30 years ago. But now because of the Internet, because of this dispersion of technology out into the hands of everyone, we can now see, in many ways, the single best use of the Internet and wireless devices that we've ever seen. And it's bedeviling Putin. And so to the extent to which, when he decided in the 2016 election, to use the Internet for nefarious purposes, in seeking to undermine our elections, we then had to fight back, we then had to say, Guess Get your hands off of our democracy, just get your hands off of it. Do not allow anyone to ever come into our country to try to affect the fundamentals of what it is that makes us a great nation. And we had to impeach a president twice. The second time because he was asking Zelinsky to give information about Joe Biden's son, or else you don't get the anti tank and anti aircraft, weapons which you need to defend your country. So we know that in recent history, we can see what the impact is. And we can also appreciate what Solinsky is doing in his use of the Internet, in his use of this wireless technology. That as Daniel said, in 1965, depending on offered the packet switch network technology opportunity to at&t and they said we don't want it we're not going to build a packet switch network. We've already got long lines all across the country, we control long distance, we're a monopoly. We don't want it. Then they offered it to IBM. And IBM said we don't have to build a packet switch network where a monopoly. So they gave the contract to Bolt Beranek and Newman on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, and both Brannick and Newman then began to contract out to UCLA and University of Indiana and other and before you know it, it was stopping that. And before you know what in 1991, we had a pass a bill to turn it into something we call the Internet today. So we're pretty much celebrating the 30th anniversary right now. And it's a victory for us. And it's a victory for what we have given as something which can be used by people all around the planet. And and we're seeing its best use right now, after we saw its worst use by Putin and trying to compromise our democracy. So it's a challenge to us. It's a challenge for us to stand up for the highest and best uses of these technologies. And I know this is Tim here. We're to Tim's right over here. So Tim, Tim was on my staff back in you know Now apparent period of time 1991 to 1994, when I was the chairman of the telecommunications committee, and, and we were trying our best to ensure that we built into these technologies, the human values, which we want to animate them, because the technology itself is inanimate, it only reflects the values you want to give it, that a society wants to give it, it doesn't just happen. You can't depend upon a corporation, trying to make a lot of money to decide simultaneously, but I want the highest human values in it. That's public policy. That's the policy that the country has to have for its use. Otherwise, it can spin out of control. So in 1996, I actually built in to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, a uniform Privacy Bill of Rights for everyone in the country across all technology platforms, and it passed the House of Representatives.
certain number of senators, reflecting corporate interest mandated that it came out in the conference in 1996. They knocked it out on the last night. So I never want to hear from anybody. Oh, this is a new issue. Who could have ever anticipated that private corporations would want to compromise the privacy of individuals in order to reap huge rewards for themselves. Okay, so I built it in 1995. Tim was there when I was having the hearings on privacy 1992 9394. So it was all highly anticipated ML. And it was also anticipated well, but the biggest companies want it knocked out, because it would destroy the future business model. As we move from analog to digital as we move from narrowband to broadband, which is what the 1996 Telecom Act was all about. And we're celebrating its 26th anniversary this month, and $2 trillion was actually invested. In the first five years, some people call it a.com. Bubble. I just call it the deployment of broadband across the whole country. And I don't care if pets.com makes it, you know, it's just not relevant to me. I don't pick winners and losers. I just want the technology out there and animated with values. So what I was able to do is to actually, two years later, 1998 was crazy. The companies finally gave me, children in America, under the age of 13, we'll get a Privacy Bill of Rights. Okay, that's it, though. Don't ask for any more than that. Congressman. That's, that's a lot. Okay, so I had it settle for age 12. So that's called the Child Online Privacy Protection Act. That's the Constitution that's out there right now, under which a lot of these companies all get sued. Thank you, you know, find thank you for what they are doing to children in our country. And of course, it only intensifies the less there is government activity to protect children in our country. Again, we have to animate it with our values. Okay, how do we feel about children? We want to protect them that we think there's bad people out there? Do you let people who knock on the front door trying to sell yourself stuff? You know, when you have children librium can come right into the living room? Oh, you want to be in my living room? Sure. Anytime, you know, we trust you, sir. That sir, is sitting someplace right now trying to exploit that same child trying to instill in them values inconsistent with the values of that family. So we know that 95% of teens have access to a smartphone. We know that kids say that they're online almost constantly. We know that screentime for young people has doubled during the pandemic. We know that the younger they are, the more vulnerable they are. We know that. And we need to enact a new, stronger Privacy Bill of Rights in our country for young people, under 16 year olds, if that's the best we can do. Now. I think it should be everyone. Obviously, I got it passed in the House Representatives in 1995. So I do believe that but if we can't do that, let's at least do the children in our country, up to age 60. Because it's embedded in kids lives. It's a part of who they are. It's how they play. It's how they learn. It's who they are. This device is attached to them, okay? They, they can't live without it. It's like oxygen for kids. Without it. They don't even they don't even have an identity. So So we have to know that. And we have to know that many of these platforms today have an insatiable appetite for all information about all children in our country. It seeks to hook consumers at a young age the same way the tobacco industry does. My father told me when I was 12, he knew I was going to start smoking because he had started smoking as well. And my father died of two packs of camels a day. You know, I never did start smoking because my mother, but 12 years old, loving his old, we all know how it works. Okay, when everyone's an expert on being 11, and 12, and 13, you don't need experts to tell anybody what's going on down the park at age 11, and 12 and 13. You no need Harvard School of Public Health Studies. You don't need experts to come in and tell you, we all know who they are, because we were young ones ourselves. Okay, we're all there. And we have to decide as a society, do we have the courage to take on
this issue in the same way so Lenski is taking on a big issue, because ours is taking on a corporate culture, of exploitation of, of monetization of the information about kids. So we've had hearings in the last couple of months in Congress. Thank you, Francis Haugen, the latter day, Paul Revere coming to one of the danger, getting us the internal information from the, from Facebook, terms of how they know the impact on young girls. They know how it increases suicide ideation. And we know that they do nothing about it. So there it is. It's nothing that everyone didn't already know. But at least now we have the smoking gun, we have the evidence, we know what has to happen. October, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency for children's mental health in our country. And we all know this is true. My wife was the chief of Behavioral Medicine at the National Institutes of Health when I met her 37 years ago, okay. But you don't have to be the chief of behavioral medicine, the nationalist help to know that there's a mental health crisis across this country, and a lot of it related to the Internet. And and when Francis Hoggin showed that 32% of teen girls said when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse and 6% of American teens, Tracy decided to kill themselves back to Instagram. Are we going to do something about it? Do we have the courage to stand up and say we're going to do something about it? How much more evidence do you need? And why would we make those children vulnerable in our country, to something that has dramatic healthcare effects as we see mothers carrying their children towards the Polish border right now, to protect their children? We just have to stand up to corporate America and just say no, we have the courage to say no, our children are too valuable. We're not going to allow this to continue any longer. And by the way, I've filed this bill year after year after year after year after year. And I'm just hoping that what's going on in Ukraine lease terms of the protection of their children will resonate somehow, inside the political system of the United States. Because this is a straight line. Going right back to the gathering of the Stata to the impact that's having on children and a girl today who's 1313 has no right to say no, you can't gobble up the data about me. No, you can't use that data to power artificial intelligence systems that push toxic content towards me. No, you can't profile me and manipulate me using your troves of data driven insights. Now, how do I know that Facebook knew this? Because I went into the office of Mark Zuckerberg in 2010 in Palo Alto, and I sat down with him. And I said to him, what rights should a mother have? If she has a daughter who is bulimia or anorexic, and the girl has now gone online, in order to find out more about anorexia or bulimia. And now, the girl is being targeted by companies. What Rachel the mother had to say say away from my daughter? Our array said information. And he said to me, you know, that's a very good question. That's a very good question. I haven't really thought about that. But that's a good question.
And so well, I said I well, I thought about going all the way Back to 1995 When I passed the uniform privacy bill that the biggest companies were able to kill. So now it's 10 years later he specifying says, Say entering? Oh, that's a very good question about the impact on children, I'll have to take that back to my team. You know, then they have, then they have some of the online gag attacks. Senators, oh, they don't understand the Internet. You're right. For many senators, but they do understand human nature. They do understand a practice that's meant to exploit young Americans in our country, they do understand that. And they also want to say that this guy can write an algorithm from here or soccer back in a quarter of a second, but he can't figure out how to protect children, we can figure that out, too. So the time has come for us to be laser focused on empowering and protecting that 13 year old girl and the 14 year old girl and a 15 year old girl and making sure that she and her brother get the protections which they need. So they're not haunted by what they do online. So we need to get, we need to ensure that companies have to get consent before collecting data about users age 1314, or 15. Ban targeted ads to children which are inherently manipulative, create an online eraser button, so kids and parents can tell companies to delete the data they've collected about child users, and amend the Child Online Privacy Protection Act to stop companies from turning a blind eye to the children on their platforms, and create a youth privacy and marketing division at the Federal Trade Commission. Just let's create it. Let's just make sure that there are cops on the beat, looking at this area, because we can see how many millions of children in our country are negatively impacted. And we'll be as each year goes by and we get a new collection of kids who fall into that category. We're going to do something or not. So we just have to decide if we want kids to grow up the same way. Many of us had a way to grow up, we could make mistakes, that the guy knocking on the door couldn't get into the living room, because your mother wouldn't let him in. And we provide those protections for mothers and fathers that they can then exercise to protect their children in our country. Then you move on to the metaverse. Okay? The metaverse is a digital environment that is comprised of interconnected Virtual Reality platforms. And we need to be working right now to make sure that this new virtual landscape is not ridden with new threats to kids and teens. So how old is this metaverse? Now, I can tell you I was there at his origin. When Tim was working for me 1992 I was out in Palo Alto with this guy. His name was he was the chief scientist for Sun Microsystems. And you don't this guy, it's so long ago, you don't even remember who he was. But so this guy, Eric Schmidt. So he says to me, I want to show you a new technology of virtual reality. So they pop the helmet on me. And I'm watching, you know, these movies inside of my virtual reality helmet in 1992. And they're going to work on this is the future. We just can't figure out he said, how to monetize it yet. How do we get this product out there in a way that can be mass produced? Okay, so now it's 2022. And it's got a fancy name metaverse. But brings a whole bunch of issues 30 years later, but they're not new. Because I was asking the questions back then. Same questions, you don't have to be a genius, you can see the wonderful, wonderful way in which people can escape reality, in virtual reality. They never have to engage humanity again. You know, and, and again, I was the author of the law to that day, put the 200 megahertz of spectrum over into the hands of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth cell phone companies in 1993. So that we could have this digital revolution. And I'm very proud of it. And by the way, I'm so proud of it that as I look out there, and I see so many of you looking down at your phone, and not even paying attention that
that's my goal. No one will ever have to look up again. One big VR one big metaverse. Okay, who has to deal with real reality, you know, when they can be in the wrong reality. Okay, apart from, you know what's going on in the real world. It's kind of I was proud of it. I pass all those laws that my law is so I am very familiar with how we got here today. So what we have to do as a result, is just say, and that's what I did in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission earlier this month, urging it to use its full authority under COPPA and the Federal Trade Commission Act to protect children In the metaverse as virtual reality offerings become increasingly popular amongst young people. And while some VR companies state that their products and platforms are not meant for kids, many children, nevertheless, and you'd be shocked to find out that this is the case already used these pipes. In fact, two thirds of parents with VR devices reported their children asked them to buy the device for them. In 2017 21% of parents said they had VR equipment at home, and approximately three quarters of children surveyed between the ages of eight and 15 expressed significant interest in VR. But unfortunately, many VR platforms and headsets do not have basic parental controls, and reports plane and reports point to harm such as harassment and unsafe content in the metaverse. And I'm particularly concerned that VR companies plan to present advertisements in the metaverse that could lead to harmful marketing practices that may be inherently manipulative to children. Well, we already know about the potential threats to children in a connected virtual ecosystem implores us to be vigilant, and to be aggressive in putting the protections in place. Now, before it fully gets off the ground. We don't have to wait until we have a total child catastrophe with VR on our hands, we should have the wisdom to anticipate. But it's going to require parents and policymakers and pediatricians to all come together to create this movement. And I urge all of you who care about this, to make sure that we minimize the impacts of VR on children. And it's why I'm also pushing while my bipartisan children and Media Research advancement or camera act with with bipartisan support, that will create a commission to research at the NIH, the impact of tech and media on kids cognitively, physically and emotionally, like a Surgeon General's report on tech for our country. And I'm doing that with Roy Blunt. Okay. This has nothing to do with etiology just has to do with the children in our country. And under the legislation. That research initiative would include studies on the specific effects of virtual reality on young people. And finally, I would just say that, that in the 1996 Telecom Act, on the House side, I was the author of the E Rate. My father was a milkman for the hood, no company. But I could compete with the school superintendent son who was going to go to Yale, because I can take my books home, study, and compete against that guy. I could do it. But the deeper you get into this new world, if you don't have the Internet at home, you don't have the Internet on your desk in school. So that's why in 1995 and I still live in the same community. Malden, Massachusetts that I grew up in, it's in the bottom quartile of income in the state. But here's Marlin high school last year, city of 65,027%, white 25%, Latino, 24%, Asian, 43%, black, the most diverse High School in America. How are those kids going to compete? Where's their bookbag? Well, their bookbag is a device, right? If they can't take it home, so I was able to ensure that I could add
$7 billion to the rescue plan last year. So the school systems would get the money to make sure that the wireless technologies were at people's homes, the bills could get paid, I have more money that's in build back better. So the funding can be there for schools wherever they might need it to make sure that they can get it at home. Because we know who the kids are. They're black, they're brown, they're poor, the rural, the immigrants are another way of putting it there the future workforce of the United States of America, whether people like it or not, we're going to invest in them the same way they invested in a million son, who could be a senator in one generation or not. So that's, that's the challenge that we have. That's who you all are. That's what my hopes are for our country in 2022, that we can see something and respond to it. That the past is just a memory in the future is a hard reality that we have to deal with. And we cannot have a nostalgia for a time that never existed to replace the idealism that we need in order to take on these huge challenges for the children of our country. And I urge each and every one of you to stand up wherever you are. The fight to make sure that at least for the children in our country, we put these online protections in place in 2022. Thank you all so much. Thanks for having