Markey: Facebook Should Not Target Advertising to Teens

Lawmaker introduced bipartisan, bicameral ‘Do Not Track Kids Act’ to restrict targeted advertising to teens 15 and younger

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today raised serious concerns about Facebook’s change of policy that would allow the company to gather information about users, even youth as young as 13, from websites outside its network and then use that information to target advertisements at users.    

 

In 2011, then-Rep. Markey queried Facebook about their plans to gather information about its users, even when logged off from the Facebook website, and target advertisements to users based on the information collected.  Facebook responded that “Unlike many other web-based companies, Facebook has not designed its advertising system to ‘track’ people on third-party websites for the purpose of profiling their activities and serving them targeted advertisements based on that activity.”  

 

“Facebook’s announcement today to track users as young as 13 outside its website in order to gather information for targeted advertising raises a major privacy red flag,” said Senator Markey. “It doesn’t matter where teen users are online, Facebook will create detailed digital dossiers without their permission based on what they click. Now more than ever, we need to put rules on the books to ensure teens are protected from being tracked. The bipartisan ‘Do Not Track Kids Act’ legislation would protect impressionable and vulnerable teens when they go online and provide tools for parents. I will continue to monitor this situation, and will work with my colleagues to pass this important legislation.” 

 

As a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Markey co-authored the Children’s Online Privacy and Prevention Act (COPPA), and in November 2013 introduced the bipartisan, bicameral “Do Not Track Kids Act” to update COPPA for the 21st century.  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 geolocation 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.