The bill, which passed by voice vote, will now go to the full Senate for consideration. There is currently no version of this bill in the House of Representatives.
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Edward Markey along with Senators Bill Cassidy, Richard Blumenthal and Cynthia Loomis, would limit the age at which children enjoy special online privacy protections under Markey’s 1998 update of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). , increasing from 12 to 16 years.
Markey has previously criticized companies like Meta’s Facebook, Google’s YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat.
Under the new bill, companies will not be allowed to collect personal information about anyone 16 or older without consent, and companies must give young users the opportunity to erase personal information. An agency to deal with online privacy and marketing to minors issues would be established within the Federal Trade Commission, which currently oversees COPPA compliance.
Broader privacy legislation protecting adults has continued to be proposed in Congress, but has failed amid battles over whether it would privilege states’ laws that are sometimes too strict, or whether individuals should be overruled.
A committee of the US House of Representatives approved a bill this month that would become the US Privacy Act and restrict the personal information companies collect online, but its fate in the Senate is uncertain.
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