Hormones Should Play A Role In Lawmaking, Say Advocates

COPPA teenagers
A group of parents and doctors sent a letter to the president saying they want lawmakers to consider hormones when considering COPPA rules.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, safeguards kids under thirteen. But now, a group of medical and consumer advocacy groups are urging officials to enact laws that further protect the personally identifiable data of adolescents under 18.

Teenage Hormones and COPPA Rules

Representatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the Consumer Federation of America added their John Hancocks to a letter urging for more teen-focused online privacy laws.

The advocates want three main things:

  • Adherence to Fair Information Practice Principals when marketing to teenagers;
  • A teenage-friendly privacy policy (whatever that means); and
  • Clearly distinguishable methods to opt-in and out of various data collection programs.

Why are people pushing for stricter teenage online privacy laws? Simply put: hormones.

Teenagers “experience greater emotional volatility than younger children and adults. As such, they’re more susceptible to digital marketing,” the letter explained. In other words (and I’m paraphrasing here), “middle school and high-school aged individuals are notoriously bad decision makers, governed by animalistic urges, and an insatiable desire to push boundaries; we should be careful with data during this life stage.”

Other Online Privacy Bills Are Making Their Way Round Capitol Hill

This push comes in the wake of several Capitol Hill online privacy proposals. While most of the acts in review don’t specifically mention teenagers, the Do Not Track Kids Act does. Co-sponsored by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the Do Not Track Kids ACT calls for a ban on all behavioral marketing of citizens 18-years-old and younger.

(A cursory analysis of how an 18-and-younger marketing ban will work, however, is somewhat perplexing. After all, if the statue calls for a ban on teenage behavioral targeting, how do they expect companies to pinpoint users’ ages? But that’s another technical puzzle for another day.)

Get In Touch With A COPPA Lawyer

If you run a website that deals with kid-related products or issues, it’s important to make sure you’re in compliance with COPPA regulations. If you don’t, you could be staring down the barrel of an FTC lawsuit. Moreover, elected officials are eager to pass statues like the one described above – better to get your ducks in a row now than wait till the last minute.

And guess what, getting a legal privacy consultation probably costs a lot less than you think; after all, lawyers who are tech geeks at heart understand the mindset and revenue limitations of online entrepreneurs.

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