Reps. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.) and Tim Walberg (R., Mich.) have introduced a bill that would increase the age of children for whom companies must obtain parental consent for data collection from 12 to 15 and would require that precise geolocation information and biometric information be treated as personal information under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998.
The proposed Preventing Real Online Threats Endangering Children Today (PROTECT) Kids Act would also affirm that COPPA protections apply to mobile applications as well as websites and online services, and would require that parents be given the ability to delete any personal information about their children, which is “a feature never before afforded to parents under COPPA to protect their children,” the sponsors said in a press release.
The PROTECT Kids Act would also require the Federal Trade Commission, which has rulemaking authority to implement COPPA, “to conduct a study on the knowledge standard found in COPPA and report recommendations to Congress,” the press release said.
COPPA set an “actual knowledge” standard, that is, to be liable for violating the statute, entities must have actual knowledge that users are children. A bill introduced in the Senate last year by Sens. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) would change the knowledge standard from actual to “constructive” (TR Daily, March 12, 2019).
The FTC is currently conducting a review of the effectiveness of the amendments the agency made to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) in 2013 and whether additional changes are needed (TR Daily, June 17, 2019). It received comments in the proceeding last month (TR Daily, Dec. 17, 2019).
Rep. Rush said in a statement, “In the past, predators and perpetrators sought to harm our children by lurking near schoolyards and playgrounds, but now—due to incredible advancements in technology—they are able to stalk our children through their mobile devices and in video game lobbies. In the face of this new threat to our nation’s youth, I am proud to work with Rep. Walberg to introduce the PROTECT Kids Act, which will not only do as its name suggests and protect children across the country from online threats, but it will also provide parents with the peace of mind that their sons and daughters are safer when accessing websites and mobile applications.”
He added, “I am also pleased that we were able to reach a reasonable, common-sense, and bipartisan agreement that will require the FTC to assess the appropriate knowledge standard to best protect our nation’s children.”
Rep. Walberg said, “Children today are more connected online and face dangers that we could not have imagined years ago. While advancements in technology allows for many benefits, it also poses a risk for our kids. I am proud to work with Rep. Rush to update our digital privacy laws to safeguard our children and their personal data online.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
MainStory: FederalNews Congress FTC Privacy
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