Durbin & Markey Introduce New Legislation To Protect Children's Online Privacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the collection of personal information by internet companies is encroaching more and more on the privacy of every American, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL)and Ed Markey (D-MA) today announced the introduction of new legislation to strengthen online privacy protections for children when websites collect their personally identifiable information. The Clean Slate for Kids Online Act would give every American the right to have internet companies delete all personal information that was collected from or about the person when he or she was a child under age 13. 

“In today’s era of ‘big data,’ kids are using the internet every day without fully understanding the consequences of every click.  Pre-teen children do not realize that their internet usage helps create a data profile of them that could last their whole lives. Services like Facebook Messenger Kids and YouTube Kids are marketed at pre-teens and are accumulating reams of personal data on children that can be monetized and shared,” Durbin said. “I’ve introduced this legislation to give everyone a chance to have a clean slate for the online activities they engaged in as kids, before they were old enough to appreciate how using the internet leaves a trail of personal data.”

“America’s children interact every day with an ever-expanding set of online technologies that can enhance their lives but also come with significant risks. Youth today should have the right to develop, the right to explore, and the right to make mistakes and to be able to delete them online. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation that will provide our most vulnerable Americans and their parents with the rights  and protections they need to thrive in the 21st century online universe, and I thank Senator Durbin for his partnership,” Markey said. 

The Clean Slate for Kids Online Act (S. 2965) would modify the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), a law that governs the collection of children’s personal information by operators of internet websites and online services.  COPPA requires that operators of certain websites must obtain parental consent prior to collecting or using personal information from children under age 13, and it also provides parents with some ability to limit the use of or delete information collected from their children. 

Durbin and Markey’s legislation strengthens COPPA in several ways, including:  

  • Giving every American a broad right to have website operators delete information that was collected on them while they were under 13, even if a parent consented at the time to the data collection. 
  • Giving Americans the right not only to request the deletion of information that websites collected from them when they were kids, but also information collected about them when they were kids.  This would cover information that websites obtained about kids from data brokers and other indirect sources. 

“We are grateful to Senators Durbin and Markey for their continued commitment to protecting the online privacy of young people. The Clean Slate for Kids Online Act of 2018 will empower teens and their parents to delete any and all information that was collected from them before they were 13. It will also enshrine an important principle: the data collected from children online belongs not to website operators or marketers, but to the kids themselves,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

"We commend Senator Durbin for giving consumers an Erase Button for any information collected on them by Internet apps, games and websites while they were children less than 13 years old, regardless of whether their parents had provided consent at the time,” said Edmund Mierzwinski, Senior Director of Federal Consumer Programs for U.S. PIRG.  

The Clean Slate for Kids Online Act directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue regulations to require operators of websites that are covered by COPPA to (1) provide notice on their website of how a person over age 13 (or a person’s legal guardian acting with the person’s knowledge and consent) can request the deletion of all personal information the operator has that was collected from or about the person when he or she was under age 13, and (2) when requested, to promptly delete all such information and provide confirmation of the deletion to the requestor in writing. Like the current COPPA law, the Clean Slate for Kids Online Act would be enforced by the FTC and by state Attorneys General.