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Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

A House Democrat on Thursday introduced a bill that would let parents sue companies that violate their kids' digital privacy, marking the latest of several attempts in Congress to update laws protecting children's privacy on the internet.

Why it matters: Both chambers want to include children's privacy protections in a comprehensive federal privacy law, but if that effort fails, a more narrow update to the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act could advance on its own.

Driving the news: Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.)'s PRotecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act (PRIVCY Act) would give both the Federal Trade Commission and parents enhanced powers.

  • The bill would raise the FTC's maximum penalty per violation by 50 percent, and allow parents to bring civil actions for companies that inappropriately collect or use their kids' data.
  • It would also ban companies from targeted advertising to children and make companies get express consent before collecting data from anyone under 18.
  • While COPPA currently applies to children under 13, the bill would create a protected class for teenagers from 13 to 17 that would allow them to control what companies can do with their personal information.

What's next: Castor's offering joins a bipartisan update on COPPA from fellow Energy & Commerce Committee members Rep. Tim Walberg and Bobby Rush.

  • "We're going to look at all those pieces of legislation [and] take the best from whatever we see," E&C consumer protection subcommittee chairwoman Jan Schakowsky told Axios for an upcoming episode of C-SPAN's "The Communicators."
  • It "remains to be seen" whether lawmakers will try and fold a COPPA update into broader privacy legislation or move it on a standalone basis, Castor said on a press call Thursday.
  • In the Senate, Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced legislation in March to add privacy protections for children under 16 and ban targeted ads to kids.

Go deeper

Updated 10 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

11 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.