House Introduces Bipartisan “Do Not Track” Kids Online Privacy Legislation

Additional information about the proposed legislation can be found on the website:

May 13, 2011 | Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas), co-chairs of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, introduced today a bill that would amend the historic Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) to provide new protections for children and teens.  The “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011” (H.R. 1895) would “extend, enhance and update” COPPA provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information and establish new protections for personal information of children and teens. 

Currently, COPPA covers children age 12 and younger and 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.

In a statement issued by the co-chairs, the following provisions of the Act were identified:

  • 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;
  • Requiring online companies to obtain parental consent for collection of children’s personal information;
  • Prohibiting online companies from using personal information of children and teens for targeted marketing purposes;
  • Establishing a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Teens” that limits the collection of personal information of teens, including geolocation 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.

Following its review of a discussion draft of the bill earlier this week, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) said the proposed text would create “enormous obstacles to commercial speech to teenagers” and require “costly verifiable consent before a teenager could sign up for information.”

The DMA also stated that a government-mandated “Do Not Track” mechanism for kids is unnecessary, as this kind of protection for children is already effectively provided through the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising launched by the DMA and four other leading trade associations. According to DMA, this self-regulation includes a principle that specifically addresses children, prohibiting entities from collecting personal information from children when such entities have actual knowledge that the children are under 13 or from sites directed to children under 13 for online behavioral advertising purposes.  Additionally, the principle provides that entities may not engage in online behavioral advertising directed to children when the entities have actual knowledge that a child is under 13.

The DMA also stated its belief that any legislation making changes to COPPA is premature in light of the FTC’s on-going review of the COPPA Rule.  The DMA has encouraged the FTC in its review and expressed a commitment to exploring with the Commission ways to provide even more innovative online experiences, content and protections for children in the United States.The US Senate Commerce Committee is expected to hold a hearing on this issue in the near future.

TIA is a member of the DMA’s “Kids Privacy Coalition” and will continue to monitor this issue and keep members apprised as new information becomes available.