DMA: Markey-Barton ‘Do Not Track Kids’ Proposal Is ‘Off Track’
Washington, DC, May 9, 2011 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today expressed strong concerns with the discussion draft of a “Do Not Track Kids Act” released by Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX). The DMA described the draft bill, which would significantly change the standard set in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), as unnecessary and “off track.”
A longtime leader in children’s privacy issues, the DMA supported and worked actively with Congress to pass COPPA, which was based in part on existing DMA guidelines already followed by its members. COPPA was intended to allay concerns about sexual predators and others who might seek to contact children online and put them in harm’s way, and the DMA supported the legislation on the belief that children under the age of 13 are not prepared to actively participate in the economic marketplace without parental involvement.
While a statement released with the draft legislation acknowledged that that the Internet enables millions of kids to “learn, play, and connect with others every day,” the Markey-Barton proposals goes far beyond simply modernizing the existing COPPA standard, effectively prohibiting online marketing and advertising to anyone under the age of 18 and giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) authority to define what it means to be “online,” to offer an online service, what constitutes an online or mobile application, and what websites, services or applications it considers to be “directed to children.”
“The Markey-Barton proposal would create enormous obstacles to commercial speech to teenagers, requiring costly verifiable consent before a teenager could sign up for information, for example, about colleges or college test prep courses, their favorite sports team or their favorite band,” said DMA Executive Vice President of Washington Operations Linda Woolley. “Students would be largely cut off from receiving information about vocational schools, college counseling services, and college test preparation services that help minors to make important decisions about their futures.”