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Kirk, Markey, Barton, Rush Introduce ‘Do Not Track Kids’ Act

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation will provide new tools for parents, protections for teens in mobile environment

Thursday, Nov 14, 2013

WASHINGTON – Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) today introduced the “Do Not Track Kids” Act, comprehensive children’s online privacy legislation. The bills (S. 1700 and H.R. 3481), 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. Among several provisions, the Do Not Track Kids Act would extend protection to teens ages 13 to 15 by prohibiting Internet companies from collecting personal and location information from teens without their consent and would create an “Eraser Button” so parents and children could eliminate publicly available personal information content, when technologically feasible.

“Many parents are unaware that their kids’ Internet activities are being monitored by websites and sold to advertisers,” said Senator Kirk, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Our common-sense, bipartisan bill is about returning privacy to children and giving parents a tool to control the information gathered about their children online.”

“Since 1998 when I was the House author of COPPA, kids are spending more time online, at younger ages and with more companies watching,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “When it comes to kids and their use of the Internet in the new mobile environment, it is especially important that the strongest privacy protections are in place so that children do not have personal information collected or disclosed. We must not allow the era of Big Data to become Big Danger for children on the Internet in the 21st century. It is time for Congress to take action to ensure that children and teens are fully protected when they go online and parents have the tools they need to protect their kids. I thank my partners Rep. Barton, Senator Kirk, and Rep. Rush for their leadership, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to pass the Do Not Track Kids Act.”

“I am happy to introduce the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2013 alongside my colleagues Congressman Rush, Senator Edward Markey and Senator Mark Kirk,” said Rep. Barton, co-Chair of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus. “This legislation hits home because I have a eight year-old son who is spending more and more time online for entertainment and education – and he isn’t alone. As a Congressman and a parent, I think it is vital to make sure kids are as safe on the computer as they are in our communities.

“I also believe that it is important that our teenagers receive protections,” continued Rep. Barton. “They are prone to mistakes; we need to make sure those mistakes aren’t exploited online. The protection of our future leaders is pivotal, and I believe that it is our duty to champion online consumer choice and transparency. I hope that my friends on both sides of the aisles will join us in our efforts to protect our children and keep them safe from misuse of their personal information.”

“Children’s use of the Internet makes them more susceptible to online data collection and as a legislative body it is our responsibility to build safeguards that will create privacy protections against such predatory practices,” said Rep. Rush, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We want children to have access to online services because it promotes learning and we live in a digital age with continuous technological advancements. According to a report by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), the number of teen Internet users who are concerns about their privacy in 2013 has increased to 43 percent compare to 35 percent the previous year. And 68 percent selected privacy as their greatest concern about their online activities.

“Cyber bullying has also been a major issue. An analyzed data of a sample of approximately 4400 six through twelve grade students found that teens are more likely to involve in bullying activities if they believe that their peers have also previously participated in bullying activities. The studies also indicate that teens are less likely to bully if they believe that they would be punished by the adults in their life.

“I am proud to support the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2013 as it will ensure that children’s are protected and their personal information isn’t collected or used without explicit parental consent,” concluded Rep. Rush.

“Although the Internet is an incredible place for children to learn and share, it has also become a tool for trollers and trackers to target them and sell their information to advertisers,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), an original co-sponsor of the legislation. “The Do Not Track Kids Act would strengthen online safeguards for children by providing new tools for oversight, including parental permission for collecting personal information and storing photos – practices rapidly becoming more rampant. I’m proud to champion this legislation with Senator Markey, and will continue to fight to ensure the privacy of children is protected.”

A copy of the Do Not Track Kids Act can be found HERE. A summary of the legislation can be found HERE.

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 geo-location 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.

Jim Steyer, CEO and Founder, Common Sense Media:
“We are grateful to Senator Markey and Representative Barton for their leadership in protecting kids' and teens’ online privacy and for introducing the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2013. It is especially encouraging to have bi-cameral, bi-partisan support for these privacy issues of great concern to children and families. As kids and teens live more and more of their lives in online, social network, and mobile ecosystems, this legislation empowers them to erase some of their digital footprints and to tell web operators: do not track.”

Dr. Kathryn C. Montgomery, Ph.D., Professor, School of Communication American University:
“Teens should be able to participate fully in the digital media culture without jeopardizing their privacy. This bill would ensure that young people are protected from the growing arsenal of data mining and behavioral profiling techniques that digital marketers are using to target them. This bill articulates a full set of rights for teens and ensures that marketers do not take advantage of them. It strikes the right balance between ensuring that teens participate fully in the digital media culture and providing safeguards against manipulative and harmful marketing and data collection practices.”

Jeff Chester, Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy:
“Children and teens face a growing risk to their privacy today, as the power of ‘Big Data’ is used to track them nearly 24/7. Whether on their mobile phones, playing on the street, or using social media, kids face a pervasive system of commercial surveillance. The Do Not Track bill would strengthen the ability of parents to protect their children, and also allow place teens in control of how their information can be collected. We cannot afford to allow this generation of always Internet connected Americans to grow up in a world where their personal information can be easily made available to strangers and advertisers.”

Sara O’Meara, CEO, Childhelp:
“Our children are our greatest treasure; keeping them safe at all times is not a choice, but a sacred duty.”

The Do Not Track Kids Act is sponsored in the House by Reps. Cassidy, Farenthold, Cohen, DeLauro, Ellison, Norton, Schakowsky, Tierney, and Tsongas.

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.

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