Sens. Markey, Cassidy Introduce Update to Online Child-Protection Law

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), joined by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), has renewed his effort to extend the reach of his child online protection law to young teens.

Currently, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which Markey motormanned, prohibits websites from collecting personal information from anyone 12 and under without consent. The new bill, the Children and Teens' Online Privacy Protection Act, would extend that protection to teens 13-15.

It would also create the "eraser button" Markey has been pushing for years, which would require online companies to allow users to eliminate personal information from a child or teen.

The bill creates a "digital marketing bill of rights" as well, which limits the collection of personal information from teens for marketing purposes. And to make sure that the limits are respected, it creates a Youth Privacy and Marketing Division at the Federal Trade Commission.

Also Read: Senate Commerce Tees Up Federal Privacy Bills

But wait, there's more — a lot more — including:

  1. Ban advertising targeted to kids (as distinguished from contextual advertising in content targeted to children.
  2. Change COPPA's "actual knowledge" standard to a "constructive knowledge" standard, which means websites "should reasonably know" that children are on their sites and they need to get consent to collect data.
  3. Requires online companies to explain what personal information is being collected, how it is being used and disclosed and their collection policies.
  4. Require that internet-connected devices for kids have robust cybersecurity.
  5. Require manufacturers of connected devices targetd to kids and minors to include on their packaging disclosures of how information is collected, transmitted, retained, used and protected.

Also Read: Senators Seek Major Investigation of Kids Data Collection

“The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act rightly recognizes that the internet's prevailing business model is harmful to young people,” said Josh Golin, executive director, Campaign for Commercial-Free Children. “The bill's strict limits on how kids' data can be collected, stored, and used — and its all-out ban on targeted ads for children under 13 — would give children a chance to develop a healthy relationship with media without being ensnared by Big Tech’s surveillance and marketing apparatuses. 

"We commend Senators Markey and Cassidy for introducing this landmark legislation and urge Congress to act quickly to put children’s needs ahead of commercial interests,” Golin added.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.