Jan 30, 2020

Democrat adds another proposal to update kids' privacy law

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.

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is introducing a bill that would create the Data Protection Agency, a new federal agency with the authority to ensure businesses are transparent about data collection and the power to enforce violations.

Why it matters: The U.S. has fallen behind Europe and some states in regulating data and privacy issues, with responsibility split among several agencies, including the FCC, FTC and DOJ.

New Mexico accuses Google of violating kids' privacy with data collection

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New Mexico attorney general Hector Balderas accused Google in a lawsuit of illegally amassing schoolchildren's personal data through G Suite Education products that the tech giant lets kids in the state use for free.

The big picture: There are at least 80 million students and teachers using these products across the world, Google revealed in a blog post last January.

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Privacy group says Facebook isn't sharing all off-platform data with users

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Facebook is now offering users a feature that lets them see what data it has collected about their activities beyond Facebook, but a new report from Privacy International says that not all the advertisers that have uploaded individual user data to Facebook are included.

Why it matters: As the report notes, without more complete information, it is hard for users to fully exercise their rights under the EU's GDPR and other privacy laws.