Federal Bill Would Expand COPPA

Advertising Law

Federal lawmakers have proposed a new bill (Senate Bill 748) that would amend the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to prohibit behaviorally targeted ads being directed to anyone under the age of 16 and mandate that companies obtain explicit consent from teens between the ages of 13 and 15 before collecting their personal information or location data.

The Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Minors, introduced by Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Josh Hawley (R-Miss.), would also create an “eraser button” that would allow parents and children to delete their personal information. Pursuant to the measure, a Youth Privacy and Marketing Division would be established at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tasked with monitoring the privacy of children and minors and the marketing directed at them.

In addition, SB 748 would prohibit the sale of Internet-connected devices targeted to children and minors unless “robust cybersecurity standards” are met. The packaging of such devices would also be required to prominently display how personal information is collected, transmitted, retained, used and protected.

The bill is the latest attempt by federal lawmakers—and Sen. Markey in particular—at bulking up privacy rights for minors. “In 2019, children and adolescents’ every move is monitored online, and even the youngest are bombarded with advertising when they go online to do their homework, talk to friends and play games,” Sen. Markey said. “If we can agree on anything, it should be that children deserve strong and effective protections online.”

To read SB 748, click here.

Why it matters: Congress has considered several measures in recent years seeking to expand privacy protections for minors or expand the requirements under COPPA, with no success. While privacy remains a hot topic on Capitol Hill, it remains to be seen whether lawmakers can come together to pass the proposed measure.