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Bill Would Further Restrict Behavioral Targeting of Teens

20 Nov, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – U.S. House and Senate lawmakers introduced legislation last week that would impose new restrictions on companies' ability to collect data from children.

Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced the “Do Not Track Kids” Act, which would amend the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by prohibiting Web companies from collecting personal information from teens under age 16 without their consent.

Right now, companies can’t collect such data from children younger than 13 without their parents' consent.

Observers say the measure would create a so-called “eraser button,” which would allow teens or their parents to take down content about youngsters.

Several groups back the proposal, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Communication Workers of America, Consumer Watchdog and Consumers Union.

Consumer Watchdog said that even though it endorsed the bill, the measure doesn't go far enough to protect people's online privacy. A statement from John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director, reads, “This bill would provide important protection for teens and is a significant step forward. However, ultimately what’s needed is a law that guarantees that all users of the Internet won’t be tracked when they don’t want their information taken.”

Two years ago, Markey and Barton offered a similar proposal, but it died. Yet now, some of the measures lawmakers are calling for have gained traction. Last year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued regulations banning companies from knowingly using behavioral targeting techniques on children under age 13. And earlier this year, California passed a law requiring websites to let teens delete their posts.

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