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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

18 mins ago - World

Report: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs

The scene in 2019 of a site believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese authorities have breached "each and every act prohibited" under the UN Genocide Convention over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang province, an independent report published Tuesday alleges.

Why it matters: D.C. think-tank the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which released the report, said in a statement the conclusions by dozens of experts in war crimes, human rights and international law are "clear and convincing": The ruling Chinese Communist Party bears responsibility.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Twitter sues Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Twitter on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying that his office launched an investigation into the social media giant because it banned former President Trump from its platform.

Driving the news: Twitter is seeking to halt an investigation launched by Paxton into moderation practices by Big Tech firms including Twitter for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President," days after they banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.