Do Not Track Kids Laws: Are They Realistic?

By on 11-15-2013

A while back, we wrote about how advertisements may be the new Internet threat that parents should be aware of. Apparently, some lawmakers agree and are taking steps to curb that threat and others that put kids at risk online.

Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey introduced a bill this week, which would amend the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998 and extend protections that are already in place for kids under the age of 12 to teens up to the age of 15.

Among other protections, the new bill would restrict social media networks like Facebook, for example, from gathering data about teens, including their personal information and location. Doing so could potentially prevent online predators from tracking kids down, a very real danger for kids online.

The Do Not Track Kids laws would also keep advertisers from targeting children and young teens based on their online activities. Supporters of the bill say these advertisements are more than just annoying; they could put kids in harm’s way. Senator Markey gave the example of a teen with an eating disorder being bombarded by online ads from dieting websites.

Although the bill is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and child advocacy groups, not everyone is convinced that the laws are necessary or that they would even make a difference. The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mike Zaneis says the notion of an online eraser button is nothing more than wishful thinking: “There is no way to magically make things disappear on the Internet.”


Bills Would Curb Tracking of and Advertising to Children on the Internet