House lawmakers introduce bill to update children’s online privacy law



A new bill in the House of Representatives aims to strengthen children’s online privacy amid a changing digital landscape.

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A pair of House lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday to update a decades-old law designed to protect children’s online privacy. The bill comes amid growing concern that children are encountering increasingly sophisticated threats online.

The Preventing Real Online Threats Endangering Children Today Act (PDF), introduced by Republican Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan and Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, aims to strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) to address the ever-evolving digital landscape, the lawmakers said.

“Children today are more connected online and face dangers that we could not have imagined years ago,” Walberg said in a statement. “While advancements in technology allows for many benefits, it also poses a risk for our kids.”

The legislation would allow parents to force companies to delete any private information they’ve collected about their children. It would also raise the raise the age of parental consent protections from the current 13 years of age to 16.

The legislation also adds precise geolocation and biometric information as two new categories that would be protected under COPPA.

The new legislation comes a few months after YouTube announced massive changes to how it treats kids videos. Those changes came after the US Federal Trade Commission hit YouTube parent Google with a record $170 million penalty to settle a probe into the privacy of children’s data on the giant video site.

The deal settled allegations that YouTube illegally collected personal information from children without parents’ consent. As part of the agreement, YouTube began treating all views of kids-directed videos on its site as if every watcher is an actual child, regardless of the viewer’s real age.


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