Online companies would have to ask 13-to-15-year olds for their consent before collecting personal or location data, under a new bipartisan Senate bill.
Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) proposed legislation March 12 that would update and extend the reach of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The law currently requires operators of websites and online services directed at kids to get explicit parental consent to collect data on children ages 12 and under.
Senate and House lawmakers have zeroed in on consumer privacy after a string of high-profile data breaches and other incidents in the past year. The children’s privacy bill comes as lawmakers are weighing the best approach to broad privacy legislation.
“In 2019, children and adolescents’ every move is monitored online, and even the youngest are bombarded with advertising when they go online to do their homework, talk to friends, and play games,” Markey, who has long pushed for updates to the 1998 law, said in a statement.
Hawley told reporters after a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on privacy March 12 that he hopes the bill will be considered and put into “any final legislation,” adding “it’s COPPA 2.0 with really important protections.”
The measure would create an “eraser button” so parents and children could delete personal data and prohibit targeted marketing directed at children under 13. Other updates would change the law’s actual knowledge standard to one of constructive knowledge, and ban the sale of internet-connected devices targeted at children and minors unless they meet certain cybersecurity standards.
If approved, the bill would create a new division at the Federal Trade Commission to address the children’s privacy and marketing directed at children and minors. The FTC obtained a record $5.7 million penalty under COPPA in February when the operator of social media app Musical.ly, now TikTok, resolved agency allegations that it violated the children’s privacy law.
“Big tech companies know too much about our kids, and even as parents, we know too little about what they are doing with our kids’ personal data,” Hawley said in a statement. “It’s time to hold them accountable.”
—With assistance from Daniel R. Stoller
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((Updated with Hawley comments))