H.R. 1895 will provide new protections for teens in mobile environment


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Co-Chairmen of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) today introduced their comprehensive children’s online privacy legislation H.R. 1895, the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011”. The bill, which amends the historic Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), 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, COPPA 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.
“Over the past several months, there has been a deluge of data leaks, breaches, and other exposures of children’s personal information,” said Rep. Markey. “When it comes to kids and their use of the Internet, it is particularly important that stringent privacy protections are applied so that children do not have their online behavior tracked or their personal information collected or disclosed.
“Since 1998 when I was the House author of COPPA, children are more likely to be poked, liked and friended online than on the playground. Now is the time for new legislation to protect kids and prevent them from being tracked online.
“The 'Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011' will ensure that kids are protected and that sensitive personal information isn't collected or used without express permission,” said Markey. “I have long believed that consumers – not corporations – should have control over their personal information, and this legislation will protect parents and kids from the dangers that can lurk in the online environment.  The Internet is like online oxygen for many kids – they can’t live without it.  We want kids to have Internet access; we also want to ensure there are appropriate safeguards. I look forward to working with Rep. Barton and my colleagues to move this much-needed legislation forward.”

“Today, I am proud reach across the aisle and join with Rep. Markey to officially introduce the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011,” said Rep. Barton. “I believe that every American has the right to choose what they believe to be best for themselves and their children. But often times in our digital world that right is lost because your personal information is collected and stored without you ever knowing.

“This bill is a first step in putting consumers back in control.  It lets you know what types of information are being collected about your kids online and how it is being used. If you don’t like what you learn – you will now have the authority to change it with just the click of a mouse.

“It is unacceptable for a website operator to act as a dictator with no consequences, and this bill ensures this type of behavior will not be directed toward our children,” said Rep. Barton. “I look forward to the next steps in the legislative process, and I look forward to future proposals to ensure protections of all Americans.”

The “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011” strengthens privacy protections for children and teens by:

  • 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;
  • Requiring online companies to obtain parental consent for collection of children’s personal information;
  • Prohibiting online companies from using personal information of children and teens for targeted marketing purposes;
  • 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.

“We commend Representatives Markey and Barton for listening to the concerns of families and taking action by introducing a “Do Not Track Kids” privacy bill that places kids and teens front and center,” said Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. “As it stands now, the nation’s tech privacy policies are outdated, as they do not include protections for mobile and geolocation technologies. Kids and teens are being tracked even more than adults, and marketed to without permission while companies make huge profits off the data – and that is wrong. It is promising to see leaders of both parties come together to address these issues on behalf of children and families, and we hope the bill continues to gain bipartisan support.”

“Today’s teenagers are growing up in a ubiquitous digital media environment, where mobile devices, social networks, virtual reality, interactive games, and online video have become ingrained in their personal and social experience,” said Dr. Kathryn C. Montgomery, Ph.D., Professor, School of Communication American University. “Members of this generation are, in many ways, living their lives online. But while youth have embraced new media, they cannot be expected to understand the subtle, often covert techniques that digital marketers use to track and influence their behaviors. Many teens go online to seek help for their personal problems, to explore their own identities, to find support groups for handling emotional crises in their lives, and sometimes to talk about things they do not feel comfortable or safe discussing with their own parents. Yet, this increased reliance on the Internet subjects them to wholesale data collection and profiling.  By instituting fair information practices for teens now, we can help ensure they are treated with respect in the rapidly growing digital marketplace.”

“Today’s youth—and their parents—confront a pervasive and unaccountable digital data collection system,” said Jeff Chester, Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy. “When young people are online, including on mobile phones, playing games, or using social media, they are subject to a wide-range of stealth practices that can threaten their privacy and health. Congressmen Ed Markey and Joe Barton’s Do-Not-Track Kids bill will create much-needed safeguards for both children and adolescents. It will usher in a new Internet era for America’s youth, where their privacy is protected and marketers cannot take unfair advantage of them.”

“In today’ s world many children spend as much time on the Internet as they do on the playground,” said Jim Pierce, President, Childhelp. “The Markey-Barton Do Not Track Kids Bill is an important first step in protecting our children from predatory tracking – giving them the freedom to be children not consumers.”
The legislation is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and iKeepSafe.
A copy of legislation can be found HERE.
More information on how families can get engaged in this debate and tell policymakers what kind of protections they want to prevent the industry from violating the privacy of kids and teens can be found at www.DoNotTrackKids.org .