US Senators introduce legislation to update children’s online privacy rules

Update to Children’s Online Privacy Rules

US Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have introduced legislation today (12 March) to update children’s online privacy rules. The new rules aim to address the realities of today’s data practices.

The bipartisan legislation updates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in several ways. First is to prohibit internet companies from collecting personal and location information from anyone under 13 without parental consent, as well as from anyone 13- to 15-years old without their express consent.

Similar to GDPR, the legislation also creates an “Eraser Button,” which will enable parents and children to delete personal information. Additionally, it introduces a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Minors” that limits the collection of personal information. The bill establishes a Youth Privacy and Marketing Division at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), responsible for addressing the privacy of children and minors and marketing directed at them.

“The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act remains the constitution for kids’ privacy online, but today we introduce an accompanying bill of rights,” Senator Markey, the original House author of COPPA, said in a statement. “In 2019, children and adolescents’ every move is monitored online, and even the youngest are bombarded with advertising when they go online to do their homework, talk to friends, and play games. In the 21st century, we need to pass bipartisan and bicameral COPPA 2.0 legislation that puts children’s well-being at the top of Congress’s priority list. If we can agree on anything, it should be that children deserve strong and effective protections online.”

The legislation also strengthens children and minors’ privacy protections by banning targeted advertising directed at children and prohibiting the sale of internet-connected devices targeted to children and minors unless they meet stringent cyber-security standards, as well as prominently displaying on their packaging information on how personal information is collected, transmitted, retained, used, and protected. In addition, the regulations require companies to explain the types of personal information they collect, how they will use and disclose that information, and what their policies are for collecting personal information.

“Big tech companies know too much about our kids, and even as parents, we know too little about what they are doing with our kids’ personal data. It’s time to hold them accountable,” said Senator Hawley. “Congress needs to get serious about keeping our children’s information safe, and it begins with safeguarding their digital footprint online.”

Organizations supporting the legislation include American Principles Project, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for Commercial-Free Children, Children Now, Color of Change, Common Sense Media, Consumer Action, and the Public Health Institute.

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