Press Release

Castor Introduces Kids PRIVCY Act to Strengthen COPPA

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Washington, January 30, 2020 | comments
Today U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) introduced the PRotecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act (Kids PRIVCY Act), H.R. 5703, to strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
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Today U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) introduced the PRotecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act (Kids PRIVCY Act), H.R. 5703, to strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Castor’s bill requires opt-In consent for all individuals under 18 and establishes a first-of-its-kind protected class of “Young Consumers” ages 13-17, allowing them to control who collects their personal information and what companies can do with it.

“Online and digital technology, tracking and data gathering have outpaced current privacy protections for children and consumers,” said Castor. “Companies shouldn’t be allowed to unreasonably use and abuse our children’s personal information, yet many companies have been violating the minimal privacy protections in place today, while devices and applications have become more sophisticated in targeting kids. The Kids PRIVCY Act will update the COPPA to provide families with the necessary tools to keep our kids safe and protect their personal privacy.”

A copy of the legislation can be found here.

The legislation specifically strengthens privacy protections for children by:

  • Requiring Opt-In Consent for all Individuals Under 18: Companies must obtain specific, informed, and unambiguous opt-in consent before collecting, retaining, selling, sharing, or using a young consumer or child’s personal information.
  • Creating a Protected Class of “Young Consumers” Ages 13-17: For the first time in statute, the bill provides protection for teenagers 13-17, allowing them to control who collects their personal information and what companies can do with it.
  • Banning Companies from Providing Targeted Advertisements to Children: Prohibits companies from targeting children based on their personal information and behavior.
  • Creating a Right to Access, Correct, and Delete Personal Information: Companies must provide individuals the opportunity to access, correct, or delete their personal information at any time.
  • Protecting Additional Types of Information: Expands the type of information explicitly covered to include physical characteristics, biometric information, health information, education information, contents of messages and calls, browsing and search history, geolocation information, and latent audio or visual recordings.
  • Requiring User-Friendly Privacy Policies: Companies must make publicly available privacy policies that are clear, easily understood, and written in plain and concise language.
  • Limiting Disclosure to Third Parties: The bill prohibits companies from sharing personal information without consent. Furthermore, it creates additional duties companies must comply with before disclosing any personal information with third parties.
  • Requiring Reasonable Data Security Policies, Practices, and Procedures: Requires companies to have a written security policy, point of contact for information security management and processes to identify, assess, and mitigate vulnerabilities.
  • Prohibiting Industry Self-Regulation: Repeals dangerous safe harbor provision that allow for lax enforcement and rubberstamping of potentially unlawful practices.
  • Strengthening FTC Enforcement: Raises the maximum allowable civil penalty per violation by 50 percent and allows the FTC to pursue punitive damages.
  • Providing for Parental Enforcement: Parents will be able to bring civil actions to help enforce the bill and any resulting regulations.
  • Banning Forced Arbitration: In a much-needed reversal of current law, companies will no longer be able force their consumers to waive their right to sue.

“We applaud and thank Rep. Castor for her thoughtful efforts to protect children and teens online. This bill would provide much needed updates to COPPA, including prohibiting behavioral ad targeting to children, extending privacy protections to teenagers, and ensuring companies cannot pretend they don't see kids on their sites. It would also dramatically enhance enforcement, limiting the ability of companies to take advantage of the FTC's limited bandwidth and skirt the law,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense.

“Rep. Castor’s bill gives children and teens real safeguards in our data-driven digital surveillance world.  All children under 18 will have automatic built-in protections whenever they download a new app, play a game, use social media on mobile devices or visit a website. Parents will be able to enforce these rights in the courts directly. This important legislation adds new teeth to the law we helped enact in 1998—the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.   It will prohibit target marketing to children under 13 and limit other problematic advertising practices that companies have been able to use without any oversight or accountability. Online companies will be less able to evade their obligations to protect the privacy of young people. Our hope is that the House will support this bill and merge it with the Senate’s Markey/Hawley COPPA 2.0 proposal to produce strong pro-kids federal privacy legislation,” said Katharina Kopp, Deputy Director, Center for Digital Democracy.

“We applaud Representative Castor for this important update of COPPA. Her legislation rightly recognizes that no child under 13 should be targeted by manipulative data-driven marketing and that teens deserve their own special protections. Just as importantly, the bill contains important enforcement mechanisms including a private right of action for parents that will make it much harder for Big Tech to write off COPPA penalties as the cost of doing business.  We now have two serious legislative proposals – Representative Castor’s in the House and the Markey/Hawley bill in the Senate – that would offer children and teens the protections they need on mobile and online platforms. We look forward to working with members of both chambers to move these bills forward,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

"The internet and its role in the lives of children and youth is vastly different today than it was at COPPA's passing in 1998. Congresswoman Castor's bill to amend COPPA is a necessary step to ensure the protection of this vulnerable population, especially in its establishment of rights to access, correct, and delete information collected on children and youth online,” said Dr. Brandie Nonnecke, Director, CITRIS Policy Lab, UC Berkeley. (Title for identification purposes only; this endorsement is made in a personal capacity and does not represent the views of the University of California)

The Kids PRIVCY Act is supported by children’s advocacy organizations and privacy experts, including:

• Common Sense Media

• Center for Digital Democracy

• Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

• Brandie M. Nonnecke, PhD, Director of CITRIS Policy Lab at UC Berkeley ("Title for identification purposes only; this endorsement is made in a personal capacity and does not represent the views of the University of California.)

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