House Lawmakers Propose Expansion Of Children's Privacy Rules

Two lawmakers in the House have introduced a bill that would restrict companies' ability to serve behaviorally targeted ads to anyone younger than 16.

The “Preventing Real Online Threats Endangering Children Today (PROTECT) Kids Act,” unveiled Thursday by Reps. Bobby L. Rush (D-Illinois) and Tim Walberg (R-Michican), would also create an “eraser button” that would enable parents to delete personal information of their children.

If passed, the proposal would broaden the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires companies to obtain parental consent before knowingly collecting personal data -- including persistent identifiers that track users across the web for ad-targeting purposes -- from children younger than 13.

The House proposal is similar to a bill introduced in the Senate last year by Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). But their “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Minors” would require companies to obtain explicit consent from teens between the ages of 13 and 15 before collecting their personal information or location data.



Rush and Walberg's proposal comes as the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the regulations that implement the children's privacy law.

One key issue under consideration involves how to treat videos that are aimed at children, but might also be watched by adults.

At present, the agency's regulations presume that all viewers of children's content are themselves children.

But the FTC is considering changing its regulations to explicitly allow platforms like Google's YouTube to rebut that presumption -- a move that would enable the platforms to collect data from adults who watch videos aimed at younger children.

Google recently agreed to pay $170 million to settle allegations that YouTube violated the children's privacy law by collecting data for ad targeting purposes from children it knew were under 13.

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