Reps. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Bobby Rush, D-Ill., introduced the Preventing Real Online Threats Endangering Children Today (PROTECT) Kids Act on Jan. 9.

According to the bill’s cosponsors, the bipartisan bill aims to  modernizes “the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to better protect children in today’s ever-evolving digital ecosystem.”

“In the past, predators and perpetrators sought to harm our children by lurking near schoolyards and playgrounds, but now – due to incredible advancements in technology – they are able to stalk our children through their mobile devices and in video game lobbies,” said Rep. Rush. “I am also pleased that we were able to reach a reasonable, common-sense, and bipartisan agreement that will require the FTC to assess the appropriate knowledge standard to best protect our nation’s children.”

The legislation builds on COPPA, which was passed in 1998 and mandates the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce Federal regulations on children’s online privacy. However, the intervening two decades have seen an explosion of technology, necessitating an update to the legislation.

The bill, if it becomes law:

  • “Raises the age of parental consent protections from children under the age of 13 to children under the age of 16.
  • Adds precise geolocation information and biometric information as two new categories of personal information which are protected under COPPA.
  • Affirms that rules under COPPA also include protections to children on mobile applications in addition to already existing rules for websites and online services.
  • Provides parents the ability to delete any personal information about their child, a feature never before afforded to parents under COPPA to protect their children.
  • Requires the FTC to conduct a study on the knowledge standard found in COPPA and report recommendations to Congress.”
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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.