It seems as if Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much these days, but when they do, there is usually a sensible reason behind it. It appears that that is exactly what we have in a new bill recently introduced to Congress. Back in May, Ed Markey, a Democratic Representative for Massachusetts, and Joe Barton, a Republican Representative for Texas, drew up the “Do Not Track Kids” bill, a new legislation aimed to take more steps to keep children safe online. This proposed law is important on two fronts – keeping kids safe and potentially shaping the email marketing landscape.
Web Evolution Presents Greater Danger for Kids
The privacy and protection of children using the internet has always been a primary concern of parents and family members. While the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was first introduced in 1998, has been in effect for more than a decade, many of its provisions do very little to protect kids on today’s internet. The COPPA was actually outlined prior to 1998 and officially enacted long before social media, smartphones and geolocation became common fixtures in the internet experience. More importantly, it was written before tracking became a regular practice among online marketers, and this is the basis on which the Do Not Track Kids bill is built.
With teenagers and children of an even younger age having easy access to the online world, the web as we know it today is arguably even more dangerous than perceived in the early days of the commercial internet. Internet marketing technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, making it so brands can easily access a wealth of data that speaks to the behavior and preferences of their target audience. This obviously benefits the online marketer, but at what cost? According to the Do Not Track Kids bill and its proponents, it is at the cost of collecting personal information from children and marketing to them without permission.
FTC Possibly Stepping In
Do Not Track Kids aims to fill the void of the outdated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by serving as a much needed update. To see that it is enforced, the congressmen who proposed it are calling on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to step in. If passed, the legislation would essentially change the way marketers are allowed to market to children, forcing them to abide by rules that include:
- Implementing new privacy protection for children ages 13 and older (COPPA currently protects against website operators and online services from knowingly gathering personal information from children under 13).
- Limiting the user data marketers are allowed to share with third parties.
- Developing technologies that allow parents and teens to delete personal information from a company database.
Markey and Barton are being commended for their actions to further the privacy and protection of children online. The complaints of consumers have been falling on deaf ears for years, but the passing of this law could finally result in the changes they’ve been seeking. It may be a while before we know the outcome, but parents and concerned family members can help by getting involved from the bill’s official website at donottrackkids.org.