Facebook has told the Hill that it has not yet decided
whether or not to open its social network to kids. Its policy is currently to
exclude the 12-and-under set from putting their faces in the book, but
according to reports, including cited by Facebook itself, millions of kids do
The company is considering a sort of general amnesty,
allowing kids to join the network with their parents' permission, but told key
legislators that "at this point, we have made no final decision whether to
change our current approach of prohibiting children under 13 from joining
Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) the
bipartisan duo bent on boosting online privacy protections for everybody in
general and kids in particular, are not satisfied with
the answer they got from Facebook to their questions about how they would
handle that transition.
"The company didn't directly respond to concerns about
how the site would handle kids under 12, especially with regard to data
collection and sharing policies, nor if it will target advertising to child
users," said the legislators in a joint release.
"While we appreciate Facebook's response to our
letter," said Barton in a statement, "we still have the same serious
concerns. The company made it clear they have made no final decision about
opening the site to those under 12 so they are not in a position to answer our
specific questions at this point."
Markey added: "I will continue to monitor this
situation and look forward to receiving further clarity on any plans Facebook
may have for children under 13."
Markey and Barton are co-chairs of the Congressional Privacy
Caucus and co-sponsors of a kids do-not-track bill. Markey is also a chief
architect of children's online privacy legislation.