It was less than a year ago that the Federal Trade Commission announced amendments to the regulations implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which went into effect on July 1, 2013. But COPPA has never covered teenagers, and a bipartisan group of senators and congressman seeks to change that. On November 14, 2013, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representative Joseph Barton (R-TX), with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL), introduced the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2013 (S. 1700, H.R.3481), which would amend COPPA and introduce additional provisions to govern the collection and use of teens’ personal information.
Broadly-stated, the bipartisan-sponsored legislation would:
- Prohibit online properties from collecting personal and geo-location information from anyone 13 to 15 years old without the user’s consent;
- Require consent of a parent or teen before sending targeted advertising to children and teens;
- Require adherence to a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights” for teens that encompasses the fair information practice principles of collection and retention limitations, purpose specification, data accuracy, access, and security;
- Create an “eraser button” (or a “right to be forgotten” – the more elegant name by which it is known in Europe) by requiring covered online companies to permit users to remove publicly available personal information and content they have posted, when technologically feasible; and
- Require the FTC to issue implementing regulations enforceable by both the FTC and state attorneys general. The new COPPA prohibitions would be enforceable by the FTC against telecommunications carriers, thereby effectuating a limited repeal of the “common carrier exemption” to the FTC’s jurisdiction.
It was a 2011 iteration of the Markey-Barton Do Not Track Kids Act, which did not advance in the last Congress, that introduced the concept of an “eraser button” for teens. California has since seized on the idea and run with it. As previously discussed in the Secure Times blog, California recently enacted an “eraser button” for California minors, which goes into effect on January 1, 2015. This is but one illustration of California’s recent willingness to take more aggressive action on privacy issues than Congress, while utilizing ideas trumpeted in Congress or elsewhere at the national level.