Senators Propose Banning Behavioral Targeting Of Teens Under 16

Two Senators have introduced a bill that would prohibit companies from serving behaviorally targeted ads to anyone younger than 16.

The “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Minors,” proposed by Sens. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), would also require companies to obtain explicit consent from teens between the ages of 13 and 15 before collecting their personal information or location data.

The bill would mark an expansion of the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which currently requires companies to obtain parental consent before collecting a wide range of data -- including data collected for behavioral targeting -- from children younger than 13.

The proposed bill would also establish a new child-focused division at the Federal Trade Commission. Additionally, it would create an “eraser button,” aimed at allowing parents and children to delete their personal information.



“Congress needs to get serious about keeping our children’s information safe, and it begins with safeguarding their digital footprint online,” stated Hawley, who is quickly emerging as as one of the leading Republican critics of tech companies' privacy practices.

Markey, who authored the House version of the current children's privacy law, introduced legislation in 2011 that would have expanded it by banning behavioral targeting aimed at teens. That effort didn't advance, but the lawmaker suggests that Congress may now be more inclined to advance privacy rights.

“In 2019, children and adolescents’ every move is monitored online, and even the youngest are bombarded with advertising when they go online to do their homework, talk to friends, and play games,” he stated Tuesday. “If we can agree on anything, it should be that children deserve strong and effective protections online.”       

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