Bill would limit online tracking of teens

Bill would limit online tracking of teens

Oops, I’d like to remove that information

Over-sharing is a common problem in the digital age. That’s especially true with kids, who may not realize the potential consequences of disclosing personal information on social networks.

The Do Not Track bill would require the creation of “eraser button” technology that would let children or their parents eliminate publicly available personal information when technologically feasible.

California already has an “eraser button” law and Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media (and father of four), would like to see this technology required across the country.

“As kids and teens live more and more of their lives in online, social-network and mobile ecosystems, this legislation empowers them to erase some of their digital footprints,” Steyer said in a statement.

A poll by Common Sense Media found that 94 percent of adults and 92 percent of teens felt they should be able to request the deletion of all their personal information held by a search engine, social network or marketing company after a specific time period.

Widespread support from consumer advocates

Consumer groups have high praise for the bill. They’ve been for legislation that would limit the ability of marketers to track children online, especially their location, and use this information to deliver targeted marketing.

“This is a common-sense measure for helping families navigate the Internet,” Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said in a statement. “Parents would be given more control over the personal information that online companies collect from their kids.”

Michelle de Mooy, a privacy advocate at Consumer Action, believes Congress must act because self-regulation has been “a pretty big failure” for the most part.

“It’s a really good step in addressing some of the marketing practices that have started to cross the line,” she said.

(Read more: Privacy doesn’t trump financial abuse of elderly)

Can this bill make it through Congress? Similar legislation failed in 2011 and 2012.

With bipartisan support in both houses, Barton believes the third time could be the charm.

Common Sense Media has created a website for families who want to find out more about the issue and let their lawmakers know how they feel about the bill.

—By CNBC contributor Herb Weisbaum. Follow him on Facebookand Twitter @TheConsumerman or visit The ConsumerMan website.

Personal Finance


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