Senate Proposal to Update Children’s Privacy Law Misguided and Regressive, Says Leading Tech Policy Think Tank

March 12, 2019

WASHINGTON—In response to the introduction today of legislation from Sens. Markey (D-Mass.) and Hawley (R-Mo.) that would expand regulations on companies collecting information about individuals aged 15 years or younger, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from its vice president, Daniel Castro:

Everyone agrees that protecting children online is important, but this proposal would double-down on a failed regulatory framework that has strangled digital innovation for America’s youth.

The proposal would have the most significant negative impact on children in low and middle-income families, as it makes it even more difficult for companies to provide free ad-supported digital apps and services. As regulations currently stand, consumers generally must either pay for children’s apps or use ones that are subsidized by large corporate brands. These regulations have significantly stalled innovation in apps and services for children, including ones that could address children’s educational and health needs.

If the sponsors of this legislation are concerned about specific types of advertising directed to children and teenagers, they should focus on limiting those types of ads regardless of whether they are delivered on a tablet, a television, a magazine, or the back of a cereal box.

The government should not unnecessarily restrict digital innovation for children and teenagers or make it more expensive for them to access the latest technology. This proposal is misguided and regressive, and risks expanding the digital divide for children in America.

For additional background, see related analysis from ITIF: