Strengthened Child Privacy Protections in the State of the Union

On March 1, 2022, President Biden, in his first State of the Union address, called on Congress to strengthen protections of children’s privacy, including prohibiting online platforms from excessive data collection and targeted advertising for children and young people. President Biden has called for these enhanced protections as part of his unit agenda to address the country’s mental health crisis, in particular the growing concern about the harms of digital technologies, especially social media, on the mental health and well-being of children and young people. President Biden not only urged stronger protections of children’s data and privacy, but also urged interactive digital service providers to prioritize safety-by-design standards and practices. In his remarks, President Biden called on online platforms to “prioritize and ensure the health, safety and well-being of children and youth above profits and revenue in the design of their products and services” . President Biden also called for an end to “discriminatory algorithmic decision-making that limits opportunity” and impacts the mental well-being of children and youth.

President Biden’s speech aligns with recent proposals from several lawmakers regarding children’s privacy. As mentioned earlier, the proposal Vulnerable Children and Youth Information Privacy Act Amend the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by increasing the age of children protected under the law from 13 to 16 and provide a number of other protections, including a ban on targeted advertising to children. Moreover, the proposal Internet Design and Safety for Children Act aims to protect children and adolescents from manipulation and harm online, including by (1) prohibiting the use of features that increase screen time and use of apps or websites by children and teens (for example, autoplay settings, push alerts); (2) prohibit the amplification of harmful content on websites and apps designed for children and teens; and (3) prohibit manipulative marketing to children and adolescents (for exampleinfluencer marketing, marketing with interactive elements).

Copyright © 2022, Hunter Andrews Kurth LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 67

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