program areas Digital Youth

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  • "Children and Teens Need Effective Privacy Protections Now"“We have two reactions to the legislation the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation plans to consider on Thursday.  On the one hand, we appreciate that the subcommittee is taking up the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) as a standalone bill, as we had recommended. Congressional action to make the internet safer for kids and teens is long overdue, so we welcome this step tomorrow. As the Members know, KOSA has 69 co-sponsors in the Senate, has bi-partisan support in both houses, and has overwhelming popular support across the country as demonstrated by numerous public polls and in the strong advocacy actions in the Capitol and elsewhere. “On the other hand, we are very disappointed in the privacy legislation the subcommittee will take up as it relates to children and teens. We have always maintained, and the facts are clear on this, that stronger data privacy protections for kids and teens should go hand in hand with new social media platform guardrails. The bi-partisan COPPA 2.0 (H.R. 7890), to update the 25- year-old children's privacy law, is not being considered as a standalone bill on Thursday. And further, we are very disappointed with the revised text of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) discussion draft as it relates to children and teen privacy. “When the APRA discussion draft was first unveiled on April 7th, we understood Committee leadership to say that the bill would need stronger youth privacy protections. More than a month later, there are no new effective protections for youth in the new draft that was released at 10:00 pm last night, compared with the original discussion draft from April. The new APRA discussion draft purports to include COPPA 2.0 (as Title II) but does not live up to the standalone COPPA 2.0 legislation introduced in the House last month, and supported on a bipartisan, bicameral basis, in terms of protections for children and teens. Furthermore, the youth provisions in APRA’s discussion draft appear impossible to implement without additional clarifications. Lastly, in addition to these highly significant shortcomings, we are also concerned that Title II of the new APRA draft may actually weaken current privacy protections for children, by limiting coverage of sites and services. “Children and teens need effective privacy protections now. We expect the Committee to do better than this, and we look forward to working with them to make sure that once and for all Congress puts kids and teens first when it comes to privacy and online safety.” Signed: Center for Digital Democracy, Common Sense Media, and Fairplay
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  • Blog

    CDD Urges the House to Promptly Markup HR 7890 - the Children and Teens' Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0), HR 7890

    COPPA 2.0 provides a comprehensive approach to safeguarding children’s and teen’s privacy via data minimization and a prohibition on targeted advertising – it’s not “just” about “notice and consent”

    COPPA 2.0 provides a comprehensive approach to safeguarding children’s and teen’s privacy via data minimization and a prohibition on targeted advertising – it’s not “just” about “notice and consent”We commend Rep. Walberg (R-Mich.) and Rep. Castor (D-FL) for introducing the House COPPA 2.0 companion bill. The bill enjoys strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. We urge the House to promptly markup HR 7890 and pass it into law. Any delay in bringing HR 7890 to a vote would expose children, adolescents, and their families to greater harm.Learn more about the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act here: Background:The United States is currently facing a commercial surveillance crisis. Digital giants invade our private lives, spy on our families, deploy manipulative and unfair data-driven marketing practices, and exploit our most personal information for profit. These reckless practices are leading to unacceptable invasions of privacy, discrimination, and public health harms.In particular, the United States faces a youth mental health crisis fueled, in part, by Big Tech. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children’s mental health has reached a national emergency status. The Center for Disease Control found that in 2021, one in three high school girls contemplated suicide, one in ten high school girls attempted suicide, and among LGBTQ+ youth, more than one in five attempted suicide. As the Surgeon General concluded in a report last year, “there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”Platforms’ data practices and their prioritization of profit over the well-being of America’s youth significantly contribute to the crisis. The lack of privacy protections for children and teens has led to a decline in young people’s well-being. Platforms rely on vast amounts of data to create detailed profiles of young individuals to target them with tailored ads. To achieve this, addictive design features are employed, keeping young users online for longer periods of time and exacerbating the youth mental health crisis. The formula is simple: more addiction equals more data and more targeted ads which translates into greater profits for Big Tech. In fact, according to a recent Harvard study, in 2022, the major Big Tech platforms earned nearly $11 billion in ad revenue from U.S. users under age 17.The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0) modernizes and strengthens the only online privacy law for children, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA was passed over 25 years ago and is crucially in need of an update, including the extension of safeguards to teens. Passed by the Senate out of Committee, Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced COPPA 2.0 in the House in April. It’s time now for the House to act. The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act would:-              Build on COPPA and extend privacy safeguards to users who are 13 to 16 years of age;-              Require strong data minimization safeguards prohibiting the excessive collection, use, and sharing of children’s and teens’ data; COPPA 2.0 would:Prohibit the collection, use or disclosure or maintenance of personal information for purposes of targeted advertising;Prohibit the collection of personal information except when the collection is consistent with the context and necessary to fulfill a transaction or service or provide a product or service requested;Prohibit the retention of personal information for longer than is reasonably necessary to fulfill a transaction or provide a service;Prohibit conditioning a child’s or teen’s participation on the child’s or teen’s disclosing more personal information than is reasonably necessary.Except for certain internal permissible operations purposes of the operator, all other data collection or disclosures require parental or teen consent.-              Ban targeted advertising to children and teens;-              Provide for parental or teen controls;It would provide for the right to correct or delete personal information collected from  a child or teen or content or information submitted by a child or teen to a website – when technologically feasible.-              Revise COPPA’s “actual knowledge” standard to close the loophole that allows covered platforms to ignore kids and teens on their site.  But what about….?…Notice and Consent, doesn’t COPPA 2.0 rely on the so-called “notice and consent” approach and isn’t the consensus that this is an ineffective way to protect privacy online?No, COPPA 2.0 does not rely on “notice and consent”. It would provide a comprehensive approach to safeguarding children’s and teen’s privacy via data minimization. It appropriately restricts companies’ ability to collect, use, and share personal information of children and teens by default. The consent mechanism is just one additional safeguard. 1.        By default COPPA 2.0 would prohibitthe collection, use or disclosure or maintenance of personal information for purposes of targeted advertising to children and teens - this is a flat out ban, consent is not required.the collection of personal information except when the collection is consistent with the context of the relationship and necessary to fulfill a transaction or service or provide a product or service requested of the relationship of the child/teen with the operator.the retention of personal information for longer than is reasonably necessary to fulfill a transaction or provide a service. 2.        By extending COPPA protections to teens, COPPA 2.0 would further limit data collection from children and teens as COPPA 2.0 would prohibitconditioning a child’s or teen’s participation in a game, the offering of a prize, or another activity on the child’s or teen’s disclosing more personal information than is reasonably necessary to participate in such activity. 3.        Any other personal information that companies would want to collect, use, or disclose requires parental consent or the consent of a teen, except for certain internal permissible operations purposes of the operator. COPPA 2.0's data minimization provisions prevent the collection, use, disclosure, and retention of excessive data from the start. By not collecting or retaining unnecessary data, harmful, manipulative, and exploitative business practices will be prevented. The consent provision is important but plays a relatively small role in the privacy safeguards of COPPA 2.0.  But what about….?…targeted advertising, don’t we need a clear ban of targeted advertising to children and teens?Yes, and COPPA 2.0 bans targeted advertising while allowing for contextual advertising.Under COPPA 2.0 it is unlawful for an operator "to collect, use, disclose to third parties, or maintain personal information of a child or teen for purposes of individual-specific advertising to children or teens (or to allow another person to collect, use, disclose, or maintain such information for such purpose).” But what about….?…the transfer of personal information to third parties?Yes, COPPA 2.0 requires verifiable consent by a parent or teen for the disclosure or transfer of personal information to a third party, except for certain internal permissible operations purposes of the operator. Verifiable consent must be obtained before collection, use, and disclosure of personal information via direct notice of the personal information collection, use, and disclosure practices of the operator. Any material changes from the original purposes also require verifiable consent.(Note that the existing COPPA rule requires that an operator gives a parent the option to consent to the collection and use of the child's personal information without consenting to the disclosure of his or her personal information to third parties under 312.5(a)(2). The FTC recently proposed to bolster this provision under the COPPA rule update.)
    Katharina Kopp
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  • Press Release

    Children’s Advocates Urge the Federal Trade Commission to Enact 21st Century Privacy Protections for Children

    More than ten years since last review, organizations urge the FTC to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact:David Monahan, Fairplay: Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy: Children’s Advocates Urge the Federal Trade Commission toEnact 21st Century Privacy Protections for Children More than ten years since last review, organizations urge the FTC to updatethe Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)  WASHINGTON, DC — Tuesday, March 12, 2024 – A coalition of eleven leading health, privacy, consumer protection, and child rights groups has filed comments at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offering a digital roadmap for stronger safeguards while also supporting many of the agency’s key proposals for updating its regulations implementing the bipartisan Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).   Comments submitted by Fairplay, the Center for Digital Democracy,  the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other advocacy groups supported many of the changes the commission proposed in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in December 2023. The groups, however, told the FTC that a range of additional protections are required to address the “Big Data” and Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven commercial surveillance marketplace operating today, where children and their data are a highly prized and sought after target across online platforms and applications. “The ever-expanding system of commercial surveillance marketing online that continually tracks and targets children must be reined in now,” said Katharina Kopp, Deputy Director, Director of Policy, Center for Digital Democracy.  “The FTC and children’s advocates have offered a digital roadmap to ensure that data gathered by children have the much-needed safeguards. With kids being a key and highly lucrative target desired by platforms, advertisers, and marketers, and with growing invasive tactics such as AI used to manipulate them, we call on the FTC to enact 21st-century rules that place the privacy and well-being of children first.” “In a world where streaming and gaming, AI-powered chatbots, and ed tech in classrooms are exploding, children's online privacy is as important as ever,” said Haley Hinkle, Policy Counsel, Fairplay.  “Fairplay and its partners support the FTC's efforts to ensure the COPPA Rule meets kids' and families' needs, and we lay out the ways in which the Rule addresses current industry practices. COPPA is a critical tool for keeping Big Tech in check, and we urge the Commission to adopt the strongest possible Rule in order to protect children into the next decade of technological advancement.” While generally supporting the commission’s proposal that provides parents or caregivers greater control over a child’s data collection via their consent, the groups told the commission that a number of improvements and clarifications are required to ensure that privacy protections for a child’s data are effectively implemented.  They include issues such as: ●      The emerging risks posed to children by AI-powered chatbots and biometric data collection.●      The need to apply COPPA’s data minimization requirements to data collection, use, and retention to reduce the amount of children’s data in the audience economy and to limit targeted marketing.●      The applicability of the Rule’s provisions – including notice and the separate parental consent for collection and disclosure consent and data minimization requirements – to the vast networks of third parties that claim to share children’s data in privacy safe ways, including “clean rooms”, but still utilize young users’ personal information for marketing.●      The threats posed to children by ed tech platforms and the necessity of strict limitations on any use authorized by schools.●      The need for clear notice, security program, and privacy program requirements in order to effectively realize COPPA’s limitations on the collection, use, and sharing of personal information. The 11 organizations that signed on to the comments are: the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD); Fairplay; American Academy of Pediatrics; Berkeley Media Studies Group; Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development; Consumer Federation of America; Center for Humane Technology; Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, & Action; Issue One; Parents Television and Media Council; and U.S. PIRG. ### 
  •  Washington, DC                                                                                 February 15, 2024For too long social media platforms have prioritized their financial interests over the well-being of young users. Meta, TikTok, YouTube, Snap and other companies should be held accountable for the safety of America's youth. They must be required to prevent harms to kids—such as eating disorders, violence, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and the exploitation of their privacy.  The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) would require platforms to implement the most protective privacy and safety settings by default. It would help prevent the countless tragic results experienced by too many children and their parents. We are in support of the updated language of the Kids Online Safety Act and urge Congress to pass the bill promptly. Katharina Kopp, Ph.D.Director of Policy, Center for Digital Democracy
  • Press Release

    Leading Advocates for Children Applaud FTC Update of COPPA Rule

    Fairplay and the Center for Digital Democracy see a crucial step toward creating safer online experiences for kids

    Contact:David Monahan, Fairplay, Jeff Chester, CDD, Leading Advocates for Children Applaud FTC Update of COPPA RuleFairplay and the Center for Digital Democracy see a crucial step toward creating safer online experiences for kids WASHINGTON, DC — December 20, 2023—The Federal Trade Commission has proposed its first update of rules protecting children’s privacy in a decade.  Under the bipartisan Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), children under 13 currently have a set of core safeguards designed to control and limit how their data can be gathered and used.   The COPPA Rules were last revised in 2012, and today’s proposed changes offer new protections to ensure young people can go online without losing control over their personal information.  These new rules would help create a safer, more secure, and healthier online environment for them and their families—precisely at a time when they face growing threats to their wellbeing and safety.  The provisions offered today are especially needed to address the emerging methods used by platforms and other digital marketers who target children to collect their data, including through the growing use of AI and other techniques. Haley Hinkle, Policy Counsel, Fairplay:“The FTC’s recent COPPA enforcement actions against Epic Games, Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta demonstrated that Big Tech does not have carte blanche with kids’ data. With this critical rule update, the FTC has further delineated what companies must do to minimize data collection and retention and ensure they are not profiting off of children’s information at the expense of their privacy and wellbeing. Anyone who believes that children deserve to explore and play online without being tracked and manipulated should support this update.” Katharina Kopp, Ph.D., Director of Policy, Center for Digital Democracy:“Children face growing threats as platforms, streaming and gaming companies, and other marketers pursue them for their data, attention, and profits.  Today’s FTC’s proposed COPPA rule update provides urgently needed online safeguards to help stem the tidal wave of personal information gathered on kids. The commission’s plan will limit data uses involving children and help prevent companies from exploiting their information. These rules will also protect young people from being targeted through the increasing use of AI, which now further fuels data collection efforts. Young people 12 and under deserve a digital environment that is designed to be safer for them and that fosters their health and well-being.  With this proposal, we should soon see less online manipulation, purposeful addictive design, and fewer discriminatory marketing practices.” ### 
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  • Advocates File Amicus in Support of the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act

    Groups explain to court in NetChoice case the ways commercial surveillance marketers track & target kids

    Today a coalition of groups and individuals filed an Amicus Brief in support of the CAADCA, including Fairplay Inc., Center for Digital Democracy, Common Sense, 5Rights Foundation, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Accountable Tech, Beyond the Screen, Children & Screens, Design It For Us, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, Becca Schmill Foundation, Arturo Béjar, Frances Haugen.
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  • Press Release

    BREAKING: Advocates Decry Meta’s Attempt to Shut Down the FTC

    In response to an order that would prohibit Meta from monetizing minors’ data, the social media company has filed a suit claiming the agency’s structure is unconstitutional. 

    Contact: David Monahan, Fairplay, david@fairplayforkids.orgContact: Jeff Chester, CDD, BREAKING: Advocates Decry Meta’s Attempt to Shut Down the FTCIn response to an order that would prohibit Meta from monetizing minors’ data, the social media company has filed a suit claiming the agency’s structure is unconstitutional. WASHINGTON, DC – THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2023 – Advocates for children and privacy condemned a lawsuit filed last evening by Meta against the Federal Trade Commission that seeks to shut the agency down by asserting the Commission’s structure is unconstitutional.  Meta’s suit comes in response to a proposed FTC order prohibiting Meta from monetizing children’s data for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) while already operating under a Consent Decree for multiple serious privacy violations. Earlier this week, Judge Timothy Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a motion filed by Meta that claimed the FTC had no authority to modify its previous settlement. Now Meta is escalating its attacks on the Commission’s authority.Meta has posed a threat to the privacy and welfare of young people in the U.S. for many years, as it targeted them to further its data-driven commercial surveillance advertising system. Scandal after scandal has exposed the company’s blatant disregard for children and youth, with nearly daily headlines about its irresponsible actions coming from former employees turned whistleblowers and major multi-state and bi-partisan investigations of states attorneys-general.  Despite multiple attempts by regulators to contain Meta’s ongoing undermining of its user privacy, including through multiple FTC consent decrees, it is evident that a substantive remedy is required to safeguard US youth. Fairplay, the Center for Digital Democracy, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) have issued these comments on today's announcement of a Meta lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission: Josh Golin, Executive Director, Fairplay: “While many have noted social media’s role in fueling the mental health crisis, the Federal Trade Commission has taken actual meaningful action to protect young people online by its order prohibiting serial privacy offender Meta from monetizing minor’s data. So it’s not surprising that Meta is launching this brazen attack on the Commission, especially given the company may have $200 billion in COPPA liability according to recently unsealed documents. Anyone who cares about the wellbeing of children– and the safety of American consumers – should rally to the defense of the Commission and be deeply concerned about the lengths Meta will go to preserve its ability to profit at the expense of young people.”  Katharina Kopp, Director of Policy, Center for Digital Democracy: “For decades Meta has put the maximization of profits from so-called behavioral advertising above the best interests of children and teens. Meta’s failure to comply repeatedly with its 2012 and 2020 settlements with the FTC, including its non-compliance with the federal children’s privacy law (COPPA), and the unique developmental vulnerability of minors, justifies the FTC to propose the modifications of Meta’s consent decree and to require it to stop profiting from the data it gathers on children and teens.  It should not surprise anybody then that Meta is now going after the FTC with its lawsuit. But this attack on the FTC is essentially an attack on common sense regulation to curtail out-of-control commercial power and an attack on our children, teenagers, and every one of us.” John Davisson, Director of Litigation, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC): “It seems there's no legal theory, however far-fetched, that Meta won't deploy to avoid a full accounting of its harmful data practices. The reason is clear. A hearing before the FTC will confirm that Meta continues to mishandle personal data and put the privacy and safety of minors at risk, despite multiple orders not to do so. The changes FTC is proposing to Meta's exploitative business model can't come soon enough. We hope the court will reject Meta's latest attempt to run out the clock, as another federal court did just this week.” ### 
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