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We're Fighting for New Rules to Protect Kids' Online Privacy
It's not news that young people do almost everything online these days. What's less obvious to most parents, and certainly to their kids, is that everything they do online is shared with the Internet companies that connect them. Common Sense Kids Action is fighting for new federal rules to help protect children's online privacy -- and your privacy, too. And you can help us succeed.
Most Internet users know that when you visit a website you are likely exposing yourself and your interests to the companies that run the site and can expect, at a minimum, to receive targeted marketing from them in the future. Broadband providers, like cable and wireless cellular companies, can do the same thing, and more. They have the potential to peer into everything -- essentially a child's entire life, not to mention yours. They have a uniquely comprehensive view of individuals' online activities, such as when and where you log in, which sites you visit, whom you communicate with, and sometimes even the content of your communications.
A broadband provider can know when your kids get home from school, which bus routes they take, and which devices they use. Providers can know which help sites your kids use for homework, which TV shows they watch, with whom they communicate on social media, and even how often.
From all this data, broadband providers can paint a pretty detailed portrait, inferring age, interests, concerns, and even health status. This data can be combined with other information the companies have collected based on your family's subscription package, such as family income. Together, this sensitive data can be collected, mined, and used to sell unwanted products to kids and their families and to create profiles that could be used by future employers, health providers, and educators -- profiles that can last for years, if not forever. And even though current federal laws, such as COPPA, provide some protections, they are only for children under 13 years of age and are limited even for those kids.
Last year, the Federal Communications Commission announced its interest in developing new rules to better protect the personal information that you and your family share with your broadband provider. Common Sense agrees.
To help improve privacy protection of all kids and families, Common Sense Kids Action and our allies, including in the school and library communities, are supporting the effort to establish new broadband privacy rules.
The FCC should craft meaningful rules that protect kids' online privacy whether they're at home, at school, at the library, or on the go. We all need to use the Internet today. It's not a choice. But parents should also be able to trust that their children's activities are not being tracked, logged, or monitored for commercial or other purposes that may label and limit their kids. Stay tuned for how you can ask the FCC to craft strong broadband privacy rules.