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Sen. Markey Introduces Do Not Track Kids Act

Among the Act's provisions: "Prohibiting Internet companies from collecting personal and location information from anyone under 13 without parental consent and anyone 13 to 15 years old without the user’s consent."

By Susan Petroni: 

Massachusetts' newest Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) along with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) with Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)  introduced the Do Not Track Kids Act, comprehensive children’s online privacy legislation Thursday.

The bills (S. 1700 and H.R. 3481), which amends the historic Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, will extend, enhance and update the provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information and establishes new protections for personal information of children and teens. 

Currently, the Act covers children age 12 and younger, and it requires operators of commercial websites and online services directed to children 12 and younger to abide by various privacy safeguards as they collect, use, or disclose personal information about kids. 

Among several provisions, the Do Not Track Kids Act would extend protection to teens ages 13 to 15 by prohibiting Internet companies from collecting personal and location information from teens without their consent and would create an “Eraser Button” so parents and children could eliminate publicly available personal information content, when technologically feasible.

“Since 1998 when I was the House author of COPPA, kids are spending more time online, at younger ages and with more companies watching,” said Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in a press statement. “When it comes to kids and their use of the Internet in the new mobile environment, it is especially important that the strongest privacy protections are in place so that children do not have personal information collected or disclosed. We must not allow the era of Big Data to become Big Danger for children on the Internet in the 21st century. It is time for Congress to take action to ensure that children and teens are fully protected when they go online and parents have the tools they need to protect their kids. I thank my partners Rep. Barton, Senator Kirk, and Rep. Rush for their leadership, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to pass the Do Not Track Kids Act.” 

The “Do Not Track Kids” Act strengthens privacy protections for children and teens by:

  • Prohibiting Internet companies from collecting personal and location information from anyone under 13 without parental consent and anyone 13 to 15 years old without the user’s consent; 
  • Requiring consent of the parent or teen prior to sending targeted advertising to children and teens;   
  • Establishing a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Teens” that limits the collection of personal information of teens, including geo-location information of children and teens;
  • Creating an “Eraser Button” for parents and children by requiring companies to permit users to eliminate publicly available personal information content when technologically feasible; and 
  • 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. 

 “I also believe that it is important that our teenagers receive protections,” said Rep. Barton in a press release. “They are prone to mistakes; we need to make sure those mistakes aren’t exploited online. The protection of our future leaders is pivotal, and I believe that it is our duty to champion online consumer choice and transparency.  I hope that my friends on both sides of the aisles will join us in our efforts to protect our children and keep them safe from misuse of their personal information.” 

“Many parents are unaware that their kids’ Internet activities are being monitored by websites and sold to advertisers,” said Sen. Kirk, in a press release. “Our common-sense, bipartisan bill is about returning privacy to children and giving parents a tool to control the information gathered about their children online.” 

“We want children to have access to online services because it promotes learning and we live in a digital age with continuous technological advancements. According to a report by the Family Online Safety Institute, the number of teen Internet users who are concerns about their privacy in 2013 has increased to 43 percent compare to 35 percent the previous year. And 68 percent selected privacy as their greatest concern about their online activities," said Rep. Rush in a release. "Cyber bullying has also been a major issue. An analyzed data of a sample of approximately 4400 six through twelve grade students found that teens are more likely to involve in bullying activities if they believe that their peers have also previously participated in bullying activities. The studies also indicate that teens are less likely to bully if they believe that they would be punished by the adults in their life." 

Read the Do Not Track Kids Act by clicking here. 

“We are grateful to Senator Markey and Representative Barton for their leadership in protecting kids' and teens’ online privacy and for introducing the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2013. It is especially encouraging to have bi-cameral, bi-partisan support for these privacy issues of great concern to children and families. As kids and teens live more and more of their lives in online, social network, and mobile ecosystems, this legislation empowers them to erase some of their digital footprints and to tell web operators:  do not track," said Jim Steyer, CEO and Founder, Common Sense Media in a statement.

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