Common Sense Media Calls for New Policy Agenda to Protect Kids and Teens' Privacy Online

New policy white paper outlines key principles that industry should support to protect personal information of kids and teens online, including a Do Not Track Kids policy
For immediate release
Thursday, December 2, 2010

San Francisco, CA – Common Sense Media, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology, today released Protecting Our Kids’ Privacy in a Digital World – a policy brief outlining the steps that government, industry, educators, and families should take to protect kids and teens’ privacy online. The brief highlights the necessity of updating the nation’s privacy laws and lays out key principles that policymakers need to adopt to develop relevant, effective protection for kids and teens.

“American families are deeply worried about how their personal information is being used by online companies, yet the companies appear to be ignoring their concerns,” said James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. “The industry refuses to take responsibility. Policymakers must step in and address this enormous challenge, updating privacy policies for the 21st century and pressing industry to openly acknowledge the problem and accept a Do Not Track policy for kids.”

The brief focuses on preventing the tracking and tracing of kids’ and teens’ activities online, calling for a comprehensive “Do Not Track Kids” policy and a ban on behavioral marketing to kids, as well as increased education for both parents and kids on how companies and websites are using their personal information. Common Sense Media’s recommendations outline seven key principles:

  • Do Not Track Kids
  • The Eraser Button: Parents and Kids Should Be Able to Delete Online Information
  • No Behavioral Marketing to Kids
  • The Industry Standard for All Privacy Should Be Opt In – Especially for Kids
  • Privacy Policies Should Be Clear and Transparent
  • Parents and Children Should Be Educated About Online Privacy
  • Privacy Protections Should Apply Across All Online and Mobile Platforms

Common Sense Media is releasing the policy brief as online privacy issues take a front seat in Congress today at the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection hearing on Do Not Track legislation proposals.

“I commend Common Sense Media for leading the charge in protecting the personal information of kids and teens online,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and member of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. “For many kids today, the Internet is like online oxygen, enveloping them each day while also enabling a wide range of activities. But kids growing up in this online environment also need protection from the dangers that can lurk in cyberspace. Too often for our children, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ is online. That's why to ensure that kids are protected, I plan to introduce legislation next year that will include a 'Do Not Track' requirement so that kids do not have their online behavior tracked or their personal information collected or profiled. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue, and we will certainly use the ideas in this policy brief as one helpful starting point in drafting the legislation as we move forward.”

These recommendations are the next step in Common Sense Media’s Privacy Campaign, which is designed to educate parents and teachers and push for common sense solutions that will provide parents with the tools they need to protect their kids’ online privacy.

To learn more about the campaign and to download the full results of the Common Sense Media/Zogby poll and read Protecting Our Kids’ Privacy in a Digital World, visit www.commonsense.org/privacy.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: www.commonsense.org.

Press Contact:
Marisa Connolly
(415) 553-6703
mconnolly@commonsense.org