Ads are no longer a random banner across the screen. Companies collect children’s data online to create targeted ad campaigns.Kids now see ads designed for them based on what they search, like and watch. Popular children’s websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites aimed at adults.
The proposed Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 (HR 1895) will provide tools for parents to know what types of information are being collected about kids, how it is being used and it can be deleted. Last week, I had opportunity to hear more from Representative Markey and CommonSense Media about this important bill.
The Do Not Track Kids Act will strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by:
- Extending COPPA to kids age 13-18. Right now, kids between 13 and 18 are lumped in with adults. This bill would provide new safeguards appropriate for teens while keeping safeguards in place for kids under 13.
- Adding an Eraser Button. The eraser button would allow parents and kids to eliminate kids’ information that is publicly available on a website or app by clicking on a button. Instead of hunting through account and privacy settings, parents would immediately know where to look and how to erase information.
- Eliminating Targeted Advertising. Websites could not use kids’ information for targeted marketing purposes. The more marketing companies know about kids the more they can tailor their content. Kids should be able to explore online, free from constant tracking.
- Including Geolocation Data. Geolocation data contains the real geographical location of a user and many apps aimed at teens and children collect this data. This bill limits the collection of personal information of teens, including geolocation information.
As soon as a kid clicks on a website, their data is sold, analyzed and used to create a personalized ad experience. As more and more kids move online at younger ages, their data is becoming a hot commodity. Companies trying to tap into their buying power are engaging them with every click of the mouse. But, kids are more than a lucrative market and should not have to trade their digital selves for a free app.
Kids’ online behavior shouldn’t be tracked, and companies shouldn’t be allowed to sell or transfer kids’ personal information. Let your representative know that it’s important kids and teens are protected online, and that we need to shield them from online tracking and targeting. Ask your representative to cosponsor H.R. 1895, the Do Not Track Kids Act. Find your representative online or call the U.S. House of Representatives switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected.