Hawley Introduces Bill Requiring Big Tech Companies Give Children’s Data Back to Parents

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced the Parental Data Rights Act, new legislation that would require Big Tech companies to give parents control over their children’s data and hold accountable companies that fail to comply.

Senator Hawley’s legislation follows news of a new online tool, Take it Down, that aims to give control to users to remove explicit images and videos of themselves as children from the internet. The tool is reportedly operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and funded in part by Meta. Senator Hawley’s Parental Data Rights Act goes even further and requires tech companies to give parents control of the entirety of their children’s data.

“Today’s social media landscape is an increasingly dangerous place for children, as tech companies are far more concerned with user engagement and monetization than with a child’s best interests and long term-term welfare,” said Senator Hawley. “Big Tech companies should be beholden to parents, not the other way around, and parents should always have access to their children’s data online. We should put parents back in the driver’s seat and give them the tools to keep kids safe online.”

Earlier this month, Senator Hawley introduced two bills to protect kids online and prevent harm by social media companies. The Making Age-Verification Technology Uniform, Robust, and Effective Act (MATURE Act) enforces a minimum age requirement of 16 years old for all users on social media platforms. The Federal Social Media Research Act commissions a government report on the harm of social media for kids.

The Parental Data Rights Act would:

  • Require tech companies grant parents access to their children’s data and give them the ability to delete the data, as well as notify them when accounts are created.
  • Create a private right of action allowing parents to sue companies if they deny parents access to their children’s data, with enhanced penalties if they weren’t notified that their child created an account.

View the full bill text here.