Congress wants to know how social media affects childhood development
August 17, 2018
A new piece of legislation would authorize a $95 million, five-year study conducted by the NIH to study technology's impact on adolescents.
Senate and House members have re-introduced a bill to protect children’s online data. It would update the 20-year-old COPPA.
Patience Wait is a freelance writer and former journalist, covering the information technology market for industry-leading trade sites. She has won...
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was enacted in 1998, when today's internet barely existed. Google was founded that same year. Facebook didn’t get started until 2004. Twitter came in 2006, the first iPhone in 2007, Pinterest and Instagram in 2010.
Because the authors of that 20-year-old law could not predict the ways in which technology would become intertwined with children’s lives, they also could not guess how it would change and heighten risks to kids’ data — and their privacy.
To address these growing risks, both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill now have re-introduced the “Do Not Track Kids Act,” a bill to update COPPA. The legislation would expand and enhance current rules for collecting, using and disclosing the personal information of children under the age of 16, rather than under 13 as set in the current law. The new bill also creates an "eraser button" so parents and kids can eliminate publicly available personal information submitted by the child.
When he was in the House of Representatives, Markey helped author COPPA. Afterward, he and Barton together co-sponsored legislation in multiple sessions of Congress — every session since 2011, in fact — to update the law, but it always died in committee.
This time around, staff in Markey’s office said, the political landscape has shifted dramatically in light of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, and Americans are calling for these types of baseline protections.
The four congressmen issued a joint statement on May 23 emphasizing how the bill would help families.
“This particular legislation puts the control back into the hands of the parents by allowing them to better protect their children’s personal information and would require consent before kids and teens receive targeted advertisements," Barton said. "I believe this legislation is an important step in protecting minors from online and mobile tracking, targeted advertising and data collection.”
Markey noted that the internet "can be a child’s 21st century playground," and families want more power over how children interact with the online world.
"As we see every day the implications when personal information gets hacked, I hope the least we can do is come together on a bipartisan basis to provide a privacy bill of rights for children and minors in our country,” Markey said.
The “Do Not Track Kids” Act is intended to strengthen privacy protections for children and minors by:
A member of Markey’s staff said the bill includes some fresh provisions that apply to internet-connected devices. The legislation would: