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Adrian Daily Telegram: Walberg introduces child online privacy bill

January 14, 2020
Tim In The News

A bill to improve protections for children online was introduced Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, and Bobby Rush, D-Ill.

The Preventing Real Online Threats Endangering Children Today (PROTECT) Kids Act, aims to modernize the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) for today’s digital ecosystem, according to a news release.

“Children today are more connected online and face dangers that we could not have imagined years ago,” Walberg said in the release. “While advancements in technology allows for many benefits, it also poses a risk for our kids. I am proud to work with Rep. Rush to update our digital privacy laws to safeguard our children and their personal data online.”

Currently, security for children online is governed under COPPA, which was passed in 1998 to require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce regulations on children’s online privacy. According to the release, the representatives believe that two decades later, updates are needed to strengthen children’s safety.

The bill raises the age for parental consent protections for children online from applying to children under 13 to under 16, adds geolocation information and biometric information as two new categories and affirms that the rules of COPPA include protections for children on mobile applications in addition to existing protections on websites and online services.

“In the past, predators and perpetrators sought to harm our children by lurking near schoolyards and playgrounds, but now — due to incredible advancements in technology — they are able to stalk our children through their mobile devices and in video game lobbies,” Rush said in a release. “In the face of this new threat to our nation’s youth, I am proud to work with Rep. Walberg to introduce the PROTECT Kids Act, which will not only do as its name suggest and protect children across the country from online threats, but it will also provide parents with the peace of mind that their sons and daughters are safer when accessing websites and mobile applications.

The bill would also provide parents with the ability to delete any personal information about their child, which did not exist under COPPA, and require the FTC to conduct a study on the “knowledge standard” found in COPPA and report its recommendations to Congress.

The bill, H.R. 5573, has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce committee, on which both representatives sit.

This article originally appeared in the January 13 edition of the Adrian Daily Telegram.

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