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Barton, Markey: Online Viral Marketing Practices Aimed at Kids Highlights Need for Legislation to Update COPPA

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Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) voiced their concerns with online viral marketing tactics aimed at children, practices that a group of consumer, privacy and child health organizations today urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to end. The lawmakers, co-Chairmen of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, say the practices revealed by the groups' petition to the FTC underscore the need for passage of "The Do Not Track Kids Act." This legislation introduced by Reps. Markey and Barton amends and updates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to protect children and teens online in the 21st century.

"COPPA is as outdated as a cassette player. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and a lot has changed since that legislation was written back in 1998. Think about it - kids don't listen to tapes, they download files. It is imperative that laws protecting our children are keeping pace," said Rep. Barton. "Congressman Markey and I introduced H.R. 1895, the Do Not Track Kids Act, because we care about protecting our kids when they log on, and it is evident that many other groups feel the same. I hope that our colleagues will echo my concerns and pass this bill."

"Children and teens are especially vulnerable to targeted advertising due to their use of social media tools, making it important to update COPPA for the 21st century. The Do Not Track Kids Act will bring COPPA up-to-date and add new privacy protections to ensure that children's personal information isn't collected or used without express parental permission and corporations do not target advertising at children. 'Refer-a-friend' should not mean defer privacy protections for our nation's children and families. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass the Do Not Track Kids Act," said Rep. Markey.

The Do Not Track Kids Act will extend, enhance and update the provisions related to collection, use and disclosure of children's personal information.

The legislation will require consent from parents or users before companies collect information about children or teenagers, prohibits targeted advertising to kids and teens, and ensures kids and teens 17 and younger have an eraser button to delete their personal information online.

Written in 1998, COPPA is the law that applies to operators of websites directed to children age 12 and younger that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, or operators of general audience websites with actual knowledge they collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13.


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