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US lawmakers release draft online child privacy act

US Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX) [official websites] released a draft bill [text, PDF] Friday that would restrict companies from tracking the Internet activity of minors without parental consent. The Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 would amend existing federal law passed in 1998 due to changes in the internet and studies demonstrating the increased use of the internet by children. The new legislation would prevent companies from using the information of Internet users under 18 for targeted marketing purposes. The bill would also allow parents to remove the already collected information of their children from the Internet and would create a "Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Teens" to restrict the collection of personal information of minors. Markey outlined the need for legislation action [press release]:

[K]ids growing up in this online environment ... need protection from the dangers that can lurk in cyberspace. Unfortunately, 'Where the Wild Things Are' can apply to the 21st century Internet and the beloved children's book. That's why to ensure that kids are protected, I am releasing this discussion draft of the 'Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011' so that kids do not have their online behavior tracked or their personal information collected or used without permission
The bill is among various proposed legislation that protects privacy online and requires online firms to provide an option for users not to be tracked.

In March, the Obama administration backed Internet privacy legislation [JURIST report] at a Senate hearing. The hearing followed reports released in December 2010 by the US Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [reports, PDF] petitioning for stronger online privacy protections. In November 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] confirmed that it is investigating [JURIST report] Internet search company Google [corporate website; JURIST news archive] to determine if it violated communications laws when its Street View vehicles inadvertently collected private user data, including passwords and URLs, over WiFi networks.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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