Statement from children’s advocacy organizations regarding the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Innovation, Data and Commerce May 23 markup of legislation addressing kids online safety and privacy

white concrete building during daytime by Ian Hutchinson
Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

"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