The cochairs of the House Privacy Caucus Wednesday were
quick to use advocacy group complaints about viral marketing to call for
legislation to better protect kids online.
groups petitioned the FCC to rule that "refer-a-friend" email
solicitations on websites including those of Nickelodeon and Cartoon
Network violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, Reps. Ed Markey
(D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) said those complaints highlighted the need
for legislation to update COPPA.
Markey helped draft that bill, and has been calling for
modifications to keep pace with digital online marketing techniques. "Children
and teens are especially vulnerable to targeted advertising due to their use of
social media tools, making it important to update COPPA for the 21st
century," said Markey, "'Refer-a-friend' should not mean defer
privacy protections for our nation's children and families."
"COPPA is as outdated as a cassette player," said
Barton. "Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and a lot has changed
since that legislation was written back in 1998."
The two legislators are cosponsors of the Do Not Track Kids
Act, which would toughen COPPA by, for one thing, preventing targeted
behavioral advertising aimed at children.