Senator Markey Pushes Privacy Law, Calls For Courage Against 'Corporate Culture'

Senator Ed Markey on Monday renewed his push to pass legislation that would prohibit companies from collecting data from teens younger than 16 without their opt-in consent.

In a speech at the Internet Education Foundation's annual State of the Net, Markey not only touted his proposed Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, but suggested that passage of the bill would require “courage” comparable to that shown by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who is currently battling a Russian invasion.

“We have to decide as a society -- do we have the courage to take on this issue in the same way Zelensky's taking on a big issue,” the Democratic lawmaker from Massachusetts said. “Ours is taking on a corporate culture of exploitation, of monetization, of the information about kids.”

The current Children's Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits websites and apps from knowingly collecting personal information from children under 13 without parental consent.

Markey, who authored the House version of that law, has repeatedly introduced legislation to expand the measure.

Most recently, last year Markey and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) introduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, which would prohibit websites and apps from collecting personal information -- including data stored on cookies, device identifiers and other pseudonymous information used for ad targeting -- from teens between the ages of 13 and 15 without first obtaining their explicit consent.

That measure would also impose liability if websites and apps “should reasonably know” their products are used by children under 13, and collect data anyway, without obtaining parental consent.

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