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Walberg, Rush Lead Bipartisan Effort to Protect Children’s Online Privacy

March 11, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced H.R. 1781, Preventing Real Online Threats Endangering Children Today (PROTECT) Kids Act. The bipartisan bill modernizes the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to better protect children against new threats in the evolving digital ecosystem.
 
Walberg and Rush unveiled the legislation during an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing today that examined digital safety during COVID-19. Click here to watch Walberg’s remarks.
 
“In the midst of a global pandemic in which children and parents are relying on digital services for nearly every aspect of life, the need to update our digital privacy laws is more pressing than ever,” said Rep. Walberg. “The PROTECT Kids Act is a commonsense and bipartisan proposal that better reflects the realities of today’s Internet-driven world. I thank Congressman Rush for joining me in this effort to prioritize our children’s well-being and safeguard their personal data online.”

“The myriad of online devices used by children today has increased the threats to the privacy of our nation’s children. In previous generations, predators would lurk near schools and playgrounds.  Now, because of incredible and rapidly evolving changes in technology, children can be stalked through their mobile devices and in gaming lobbies. With the global pandemic and all people relying more on digital connectivity than ever before, it is crucial that Congress respond to this new threat to our nation’s youth. That is why I am proud to work with Rep. Walberg in reintroducing the PROTECT Kids Act, which will not only live up to its name by protecting children across the country from online threats, but also provide parents with peace of mind that their children are safer when accessing websites and mobile applications. The PROTECT Kids Act represents a common-sense, bipartisan agreement that will require the FTC to assess the appropriate knowledge standard to best protect our nation’s children,” said Rep. Rush.
 
Enacted by Congress in 1998, COPPA requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce regulations on children’s online privacy. Two decades later, technology has developed to the point where updates to COPPA are needed to strengthen kids’ digital safety.
 
About H.R. 1781, the PROTECT Kids Act

  • Raises the age of parental consent protections from children under the age of 13 to children under the age of 16.
  • Adds precise geolocation information and biometric information as two new categories of personal information which are protected under COPPA.
  • Affirms that rules under COPPA also include protections to children on mobile applications in addition to already existing rules for websites and online services.
  • Provides parents the ability to delete any personal information about their child, a feature never before afforded to parents under COPPA to protect their children.
  • Requires the FTC to conduct a study on the knowledge standard found in COPPA and report recommendations to Congress.

Click here to download a PDF of the PROTECT Kids Act.

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