Nick Cannon, entertainer and host of “America’s Got Talent”, makes first appearance on Capitol Hill, calls for support for H.R. 1895, ‘Do Not Track Kids Act’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus co-Chairmen Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) were joined today by actor, comedian and host of “America’s Got Talent” Nick Cannon to make the best case yet for passage this year of H.R. 1895, The Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011. Reps. Markey and Barton hosted a Congressional briefing today with Cannon and privacy expert Dr. Kathryn Montgomery to discuss how to protect children and teens when they are online and the tools that parents should have to ensure their children are safe and their information is not tracked or used against them. With 85 percent of parents reporting they are more concerned with privacy than five years ago, and 61 percent agreeing Congress should update laws related to online privacy and security for children and teens, now is the time to pass legislation that will protect children online. In May, Reps. Markey and Barton introduced the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 ”, bipartisan legislation that strengthens online safeguards for children and teens and updates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998.
For millions of children today, the Internet is their 21st century playground – they learn, play and connect with others every day,” said Rep. Markey. “But kids’ personal information too easily can be used without their knowledge or turned against them. We need to give parents the tools to protect their children when they are online. It’s not about Big Brother – it’s about Big Mother and Big Father. The ‘Do Not Track Kids Act’ will ensure that kids are protected and that their sensitive personal information isn’t collected or used without express permission. I look forward to working with Rep. Barton and my colleagues to get this legislation passed this year.”
“When I started working on the Do Not Track Kids Act, it wasn’t just as a public servant, it was as a parent,” said Rep. Barton. “My 6-year-old-son logs on to our computer every day, always under the watchful eye of my wife and I. We can see which website he visits, but what we don’t see is the information they collect about him. Parents deserve to know what types of information are being collected about their kids online and how it is being used. If you don’t like what you learn – our bill will give you the authority to change it with just the click of a mouse.
“We are proud to have Nick Cannon join us in our effort to protect children. His is best known to America as the quintessential entertainer, but he is also a parent to twins and realizes that his role as a father is more important than any he has tackled on the small or big screen. With his help, we hope to raise awareness for the Do Not Track Kids Act so we can give all parents the tools they need to take care of their children in this new digital world,” concluded Rep. Barton.
“Much of my career has centered around humor and entertainment. However, what is happening today online is anything but a laughing matter,” said Nick Cannon, spokesperson for Safe Communications. “Tracking our most vulnerable – our young children - must be outlawed and I am delighted that Congress is finally taking the necessary action with the Do Not Track Kids Act. The bipartisan effort here today demonstrates that the two parties can actually agree on at least one thing – the safety of our children.  Kids make up 20% of our population but 100% of our future.”
“Today’s young people are growing up in a pervasive digital media environment, where they are spending a good portion of their daily lives with social networks, interactive games, and mobile phones,” said Dr. Kathryn C. Montgomery, Ph.D., Professor, School of Communication American University.  “These new media platforms now have an unprecedented ability to track a child's every move, compiling detailed behavioral profiles, and targeting the child with personalized marketing.  While the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act provides some safeguards for protecting children's privacy, the dramatic growth in the digital marketplace requires further Congressional action to ensure that these and other protections remain effective, and that loopholes in the current rules are closed. Safeguards are especially needed for teens, many of whom are living their lives online, but who are unaware of the privacy threats they face. The Do Not Track legislation will hold companies that target teens accountable, and will ensure that young people are treated fairly in the digital marketplace, helping them to grow up with an understanding of their rights and responsibilities as consumers.”
The Do Not Track Kids Act prohibits Internet companies from sending targeted advertising to children and teens and collecting personal and location information without parental or individual consent.  This legislation also would require website operators to have an “eraser button” capability that enables the deletion or elimination of information about children and teens. Nearly 90 percent of parents report they would support legislation that requires search engines and social networking sites to get users’ permission before using their personal information, and 92 percent of teenagers and 94 percent of parents said they should be allowed to delete personal information from search engines and social networking sites.
The bill is supported by a broad coalition, including the National PTA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Commonsense Media, Consumers Union, ChildHelp and many others and currently has 30 co-sponsors from both parties.