Washington (December 19, 2022) — Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and author of the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), released the following statement today after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it secured agreements requiring Epic Games, Inc., to pay $520 million in fines for violating COPPA and the FTC Act by collecting unauthorized data about kids and deploying privacy-invasive default settings harming children and teens.

“Today, companies of all kinds see kids’ and teens’ data as dollar signs. An entire generation of young people is being targeted, tracked, and traumatized, as popular platforms rake in profits every day. The FTC made clear today that the gauntlet of predatory practices that threaten young people extends well beyond social media. An entire ecosystem of companies is monetizing young people’s attention and manipulating them as part of their business model. I commend the FTC for taking this important action.

“Congress must meet this moment in history by stepping up and stepping in for the wellbeing of young people across America. Without immediate action to thwart the pernicious threats facing young people, we will fail to safeguard them in the face of a generation-defining mental health and privacy crisis. This is a bipartisan issue for American families, and I won’t stop fighting until we pass updated legislation for kids’ and teens’ privacy protections online.”

In May 2021, Senator Markey introduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, co-sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Commerce Committee members Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), which would build upon the original COPPA by prohibiting internet companies from collecting personal information from anyone 13- to 16-years old without the user’s consent; banning targeted marketing to children; creating an online “Eraser Button” requiring companies to permit users to eliminate personal information from a child or teen; implementing a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Minors” that limits the collection of personal information from young users; and establishing a first-of-its-kind Youth Privacy and Marketing Division at the FTC, which will be responsible for addressing the privacy of children and minors and marketing directed at children and minors. Senator Markey continues to push for key provisions from this legislation to be passed by the end of this year.