Law & Technology

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Updates Are Front and Center in the Latest Round of Questioning of Big Tech Executives

By October 28, 2021 November 1st, 2021 No Comments

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a federal law that regulates the online collection of personal information of children under 13, by persons or entities under the U.S. jurisdiction. It was enacted 21 years ago, and it has had little if any update since 2000. 

The rise of platforms like TikTok—extremely popular among young children—has made other tech giants also compete and target young audiences. This, in turn, has brought a renewed concern from legislators and parents who fear children’s privacy is not sufficiently protected. Legislators are concerned also with the lack of guardrails to shield young children from dangerous content on these popular platforms. 

In a contentious questioning of executives of YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok this past Tuesday, lawmakers disclosed that their own staff, posing as teenagers, had been able to access harmful content in a matter of minutes—including content related to self-harm and pornography. 

In light of all these serious concerns, a group of House lawmakers has proposed a bill that would open the platforms up to litigation if their algorithms amplify content tied to severe harm to children. Other lawmakers have suggested that the US could adopt a children’s “design code” similar to one that recently took effect in Britain that applies new rules to how companies use children’s data. The code contains 15 standards that online services need to follow and applies to “information society services likely to be accessed by children.”

Update to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act also appears to be on the horizon, however, concern over congress’ permanent gridlock makes some skeptical of passing any regulation that affects big tech. Others are more optimistic and believe that the protection of children is an area where finally bipartisanship can be reached. 

We will keep you posted, in the meantime, if you have any concerns regarding privacy online, contact a privacy attorney at Ayala at 305-570-2208 or email attorney Maura at eduardo@ayalalawpa.com.

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