U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation aimed at stopping corporate giants, including social media titans, from targeting and tracking kids online. Among its many improvements, the bipartisan bill updates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by prohibiting internet companies from collecting personal and location information from anyone under the age of 13 without parental consent and from anyone ages 13 to 15 without the user’s consent.

“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.”

“The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act remains the constitution for kids’ privacy online, but today we introduce an accompanying bill of rights,” said Senator Markey, original House author of COPPA. “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 creates an “eraser button” so parents and kids can delete personal information, and a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Minors” that limits the collection of personal information. The bill additionally establishes a first of its kind Youth Privacy and Marketing Division at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which will be responsible for addressing the privacy of children and minors and marketing directed at children and minors.

Text of the bill can be found HERE.

The legislation strengthens privacy protections specifically for children and minors by:

  • Prohibiting internet companies from collecting personal and location information from anyone under 13 withoutparental consent and from anyone 13 to 15 years old without the user’s consent
  • Banning targeted advertising directed at children;
  • Establishing a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Teens” that limits the collection of personal information of teens;
  • Revising COPPA’s “Actual knowledge” standard to a “constructive knowledge” standard for the definition of covered operators;
  • Creating an “Eraser Button” for parents and children by requiring companies to permit users to eliminate publicly available personal information content when technologically feasible.
  • Establishing a Youth Marketing and Privacy Division at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC);
  • Requiring online companies to explain the types of personal information collected, how that information is used and disclosed, and the policies for collection of personal information; and
  • Prohibiting the sale of internet connected devices to children and minors unless they meet robust cyber security standards;
  • Requiring manufacturers of connected devices to children and minors to prominently display on their packaging a privacy dashboard detailing how sensitive information is collected, transmitted, retained, used, and protected.
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