Sen. Durbin Calls For Stricter Limits On Online Data Collected From Children

Lisa Fielding
June 04, 2018 - 1:39 pm
Sen. Dick Durbin

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- About 80 percent of children under the age of 12 are on YouTube each day, and every time a child logs on, the company gathers information about them, Senator Dick Durbin said.

He's introducing legislation to thwart that.

"Parents don't realize it's happening... There are intrusions into our personal lives that we don't realize. What does an 8-year-old know? How much information they are giving up unwittingly? I don't think parents know and I certainly don't believe children do," Durbin said at his announcement at Chicago-Kent College of Law."

"So [companies> may collect their name, their address, the kid may even have access to a social security number they may give up, their geo locations, their voice, their face, God knows what else. All that information becomes part of a big file of a little kid."

 The legislation, or the Clean Slate For Kids Online Act, calls for internet companies to delete all personal information that was collected from all children under age 13.

"That's what this bill is about. If you've given up date about yourself as a child, you should have the opportunity to clear it," said Durbin.

The Clean Slate for Kids Online Act (S. 2965) would modify the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), a law that governs the collection of children’s personal information by operators of internet websites and online services.  COPPA requires that operators of certain websites must obtain parental consent prior to collecting or using personal information from children under age 13, and it also provides parents with some ability to limit the use of or delete information collected from their children. The Clean Slate for Kids Online Act adds to that by requiring companies to provide notice on their website of how a person over age 13 (or a person’s legal guardian acting with the person’s knowledge and consent) can request the deletion of all personal information the operator has that was collected from or about the person when he or she was under age 13. It also requires them to delete all such information on request, and to provide confirmation of the deletion to the requestor in writing

Durbin said that even though parents limit online time for their kids, many are not aware of the data being collected during that online time.  

"In recent years, we've become more and more concerned about the privacy and security of the ever growing amount of the digital data collected on and from our children," said Cassie Cresswell, co-director of Raise Your Hand Action, a Chicago- based public-education advocacy group.

"We'd like to see this ability to delete data affirmed for all Americans but if we're starting somewhere, beginning with the population that deserves the most protected status, our children, makes sense," she said.

Edmund Mierzwinski, senior director of federal consumer programs for U.S. PIRG, also supports the bill: "We commend Senator Durbin for giving consumers an Erase Button for any information collected on them by Internet apps, games and websites while they were children less than 13 years old, regardless of whether their parents had provided consent at the time," he said.

Durbin’s legislation strengthens COPPA in several ways, including: 

  • Giving every American a broad right to have website operators delete information that was collected on them while they were under 13, even if a parent consented at the time to the data collection.
  • Giving Americans the right not only to request the deletion of information that websites collected from them when they were kids, but also information collected about them when they were kids.  This would cover information that websites obtained about kids from data brokers and other indirect sources.

Like the current COPPA law, the Clean Slate for Kids Online Act would be enforced by the FTC and by state Attorneys General.