Browse all articles

Congress heading in wrong direction on protecting data security of American families, including kids

Common Sense Kids Action urges Congress to oppose a bill that doesn't provide kids with the proper protections.

Another day, another data breach. Just before Thanksgiving, millions of children's photos, audio recordings, and private conversations with parents were exposed when popular toy manufacturer VTech suffered a data breach. Up to 11 million parents and children were affected.

Such occurrences are likely to occur more often as more and more connected toys -- many with questionable security mechanisms -- make their way into families' homes.

Data breaches affect Americans in all facets of their lives, from financial accounts to health information, emails to school records, and now even children's playthings.

Yet, despite lots of talk on Capitol Hill, Congress still hasn't enacted meaningful data security and breach legislation. And now, the House of Representatives is considering just the opposite: HR 2205 would actually weaken many protections for Americans. It would supersede stronger state laws and prohibit innovation at the state level. It would eliminate key protections under existing federal law. And it only offers safeguards for certain types of data, offering no protections, for example, for children's photographs or private family conversations and videos.

Congress appears to be heading in the wrong direction. That's why Common Sense Kids Action has joined other leading privacy and consumer advocates in asking Congress to oppose this bill.

As more and more aspects of our daily lives become vulnerable to hacking, we need strong data breach laws that provide broad protections for our private and sensitive information. Because HR 2205 does not provide such protections -- and would prohibit states from providing them -- we oppose it.

Ariel Fox Johnson
Ariel Fox Johnson is Senior Counsel for Global Policy at Common Sense Media, where she advocates for smart practices, policies, and rules to help all kids thrive in today’s wired world. Her work focuses on enhancing family privacy rights, strengthening students' educational privacy, and promoting robust consumer protections in the online world. She frequently advises policymakers, industry, and tech experts, and has helped develop laws on student privacy, consumer privacy, and the Internet of Things. Ariel is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School. Prior to joining Common Sense, Ariel worked on privacy, media, intellectual property, and technology matters at corporate law firms, and provided pro bono assistance to nonprofits and asylum seekers.