Senators have introduced bipartisan legislation to ban targeted advertising and include teenagers in online privacy regulations
Washington (March 3, 2022) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) today expressed their support for President Joe Biden’s commitment to holding Big Tech accountable for children’s online privacy, and mental health, and well-being after he used his State of the Union address to call for action to strengthen children’s online privacy laws. President Biden specifically called for a ban on targeted advertising to children and an end to personal data collection on children by online and social media companies. Senators Markey and Cassidy introduced the bipartisan Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act in May 2021 and pledge in their letter today to working with the Biden administration to advance this legislation.
“There is a direct link between the lack of online privacy protections for young people and the youth mental health crisis in this country,” write the senators in their letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “In the absence of data privacy protections for children and teens, online platforms are able to amass troves of personal information about users and leverage that data with algorithms that amplify and recommend toxic content to young and vulnerable users to keep them glued to their screens. It is imperative that the United States addresses this issue by providing children and teens with control over their data and by prohibiting companies from engaging in harmful data collection and use.”
A copy of the senators’ letter can be found HERE.
More than 90 percent of parents agree that existing children’s privacy rules should be extended to teenagers, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, young people’s use of the internet doubled by some estimates. Over one in four teens report using social media “almost constantly.” And 35 percent of parents report that their children began using social media at a younger age than they had originally planned. In 2021, Surgeon General Murthy released a report on the disturbing decline in children’s mental health, noting that social media platforms must do more to stop this devastating trend.
The Senators introduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act to help protect American children from harm. It prohibits internet companies from collecting personal information from anyone 13- to 15-years old without the user’s consent; creates an online “Eraser Button” to permit users to eliminate personal information from a child or teen; amends the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to stop online platforms from turning a blind eye to the children on their websites; limits the collection of personal information from young users; and creates a Youth Privacy and Marketing Division at the Federal Trade Commission.