Senators Introduce Bill To Increase Online Protections For Children And Teens

Ed Markey AP Images

Internet companies are facing another congressional regulatory push, as two senators have introduced legislation to update online privacy rules to protect children and teens.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the legislation, which would prohibit internet companies from collecting personal information from anyone 13 to 15 years old without their consent. It also would restrict targeted advertising directed at children, and require that companies give users ways to eliminate personal information from a child or teen. The legislation also creates a Youth Privacy and Marketing Division at the Federal Trade Commission, and even establish a “Bill of Rights” for teens.

“Big Tech has a voracious appetite for kids’ attention and data, and these companies have no problem prioritizing their own profits over children and teens’ right to privacy,” Markey said in a statement. “It’s time for Congress to swiftly put in place strict safeguards that stop these powerful platforms from tracking young people at every turn in the online ecosystem.”

The legislation is an update of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, passed in 1998, requires online services to obtain parental consent if they collect personal information from children under the age of 13.

Groups that are backing the legislation include Color of Change, Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy.

On Monday, a group of attorneys general released an open letter calling on Facebook to drop plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13. The letter was signed by 44 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories.

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