Child Data Privacy Could Get Much-needed Reform in New Bill
The COPPA could finally see a long-overdue update
In the early days of the internet, the U.S. government passed The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Its flaws–the ease with which children can fake their age, and no protection against ads–have only become more glaring over 20 years later, with 98 percent of U.S. households now owning a mobile device accessible to kids, and 42 percent of children having their own device.
Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense and a children’s advocate, says data on kids, including their activities, hobbies, and social networks, is often for sale from the child’s first years of life. Kids are often early adopters of apps, like Snapchat and TikTok, or even watched over by Internet of Things devices, like baby monitors, which a hacker recently took over to watch a child and threaten the parents. And these days, education is also a battleground in child data privacy, as learning is increasingly done on a school’s devices and networks. Meanwhile, connected toys have exposed the sensitive data of kids and their parents, and 59 percent of connected devices don’t provide proper information on how they collect, use, and disclose users’ personal information.
Recently, Steyer testified at the U.S. Senate Committee on Consumer Perspectives for Data Privacy, where he argued for updates to COPPA.
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