back to article Kids and the web latest: 'Won't somebody please think of the children!' US Congresscritters plead

US Congress is pondering a bipartisan measure to expand the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) – the law that, well, protects children's privacy online. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), along with Represetnative Joe Barton (R-TX) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) have introduced bills in both houses …

  1. E 2

    "Do Not Track Kids Act"

    Cannot these people do anything not wrapped up in Mom and Apple Pie and Thank the Veterans? It's a privacy bill FFS, it ought to apply to all.

    It's no wonder Trump runs rings around them, they're infantile themselves.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

    But guns? Meh, let the slaughter begin.

    They'll be in our thoughts and prayers.

    1. DaveTheForensicAnalyst
      FAIL

      Re: We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

      "We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

      But guns? Meh, let the slaughter begin.

      They'll be in our thoughts and prayers."

      This, in bucket loads. What's the point in protecting them from an advert for a kids toy, if they have a limited likelihood of graduating school because some trench coat wearing tw*t comes in and shoots them and their friends.

      America, you need to sort your fucking priorities out!

      1. Crisp

        Re: We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

        It's probably "too soon" to start talking about protecting kids from bullets.

      2. Jtom

        Re: We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

        Says the guy from a country that has a city with a murder rate higher than NYC; life destroying acid attacks; gangs on mopeds; huge groups of child paedophiles; a flourishing child sex trade; and police who withhold evidence from innocent men charged with sex crimes.

        Both our countries have huge problems because of a systemic breakdown of our cultures, led by those in the educational systems, and supported by globalist, socialist politicians.

        And before any of you point to guns and Conservatives as the problem, let me point out one significant observation: guns, and even kids with access to guns, have been around for centuries. Mass murders were virtually unheard of until recently. What has changed?

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

          "a country that has a city with a murder rate higher than NYC"

          For two months out of this year so far, and that's mainly because New York has finally managed to reduce their murder rate to something similar to other large international cities (eg Paris).

          I'm going to assume that if you lead with that bit of cherry picked statistics then the rest of your examples are equally bogus, still, hope you had fun playing, come back again when your trolling skills have reached primary school age :)

        2. sisk

          Re: We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

          And before any of you point to guns and Conservatives as the problem, let me point out one significant observation: guns, and even kids with access to guns, have been around for centuries. Mass murders were virtually unheard of until recently. What has changed?

          It's not the schools, liberals, or globalists. The problem is much closer to home than that. I do agree with you that it is demonstrably not guns. If it were the current disturbing trend we're seeing with school shootings would have started a century ago instead of just a few decades ago. And besides that, there are nations out there with far higher gun ownership rates than the US (guns may outnumber people here, but they're owned by a proportionately small number of people with large gun safes) where this doesn't happen.

          Somewhere along the line a basic respect for life has been lost in our society. We've also failed to teach our kids to cope with adversity. Most of these school shooters have been bullied kids, which is where some people want to lay blame. Well, I was a bullied kid (likely along with a lot of other Reg readers given how the tech field attracts the less-than-socially-adept) with access to guns but shooting up my classmates never entered my mind. And mainstream media doesn't help matters at all by turning every mentally disturbed kid who shoots up his classmates into an instant celebrity.

          That said, measures that will make it harder for kids to get guns are a reasonable stopgap measure while we address the real problems. I'm a strong gun rights advocate myself, but this is getting ridiculous.

        3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: We can protect them from those evil advertisers.

          "Mass murders were virtually unheard of until recently. What has changed?"

          That's one's easy -- we keep count now.

          Ever since we started counting crime rates, we've had mass murderers. Before the middle of the last century, no-one really knows what the murder rate was, but historians reckon it probably wasn't zero. Disappearances and even actual dead bodies weren't investigated with quite the care that we take now. There are plenty of poisonous plants to choose from and no way to tell if one of them had been used deliberately in any particular case. Dead bodies might not be found if they were disposed of carefully.

          And if you were a complete pyscho, unable to resist the temptation to slaughter loads of people in one go, you took the King's shilling and made a name for yourself. As an added bonus, there were no silly laws about civilians and war crimes, so once you'd had your fill of the enemies menfolk you could lay into their women and children. What's not to like? Why would you be a mass murderer when you could be a hero?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps most importantly, the bill would call for sites to offer parents and guardians an "eraser button" option that would wipe all of a user's data from the site on demand "when technologically feasible."

    Never mind the kids, can we ALL have one of these, please?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So 15year olds have no property rights that isn't under the control of their parents?

      Rephrase this as; blacks/Muslims/immigrants/Jews/criminals to have all their online data (creative work, emails, photos, game assets) erased by the government at will.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Wow that was a leap.

        Last time I know, I wasn't legally responsible for the care and safety of random "blacks/Muslims/immigrants/Jews/criminals"

        I am legally (and morally) responsible for my kids.

        Idiot.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "can we ALL have one of these, please?"

      Well, no, of course, which is why this whole thing is just stupid politicians pretending to care in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with even more stupid voters.

      With a bit of luck, there are sufficient numbers of smart voters to see through this and punish the offenders in November. Please? Pretty please?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, because we all know how well laws work....

    Disney, V-Tech etc.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Yes, because we all know how well laws work....

      Wrong suspect list. The right one is: Google, Facebook, etc. Or to take things even further various Californicating school support platforms used by schools in UK like Edmodo.

      Read their T&Cs for Europe - they have COPPA cut-n-pasted into them courtesy of the firm belief that the only law which applies is USA law and it is universal. Similarly, courtesy of COPPA they assume that they are entitled to process the data of anyone above 13 years old anywhere based on their concent alone.

      Well... Easy Tiger on that one. As anybody who actually has done some work with DPA and contracts will tell you that is not the case by far in most of Europe. You cannot process minor's data without written parental consent (in a lot of countries both parents) until their "legal major age" which varies between 16 and 18.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Yes, because we all know how well laws work....

        Read their T&Cs for Europe - they have COPPA cut-n-pasted into them courtesy of the firm belief that the only law which applies is USA law and it is universal.

        So much this.

        And they can replace that with GDPR. The boot's on the other foot now.

  5. throe a. wai

    won't someone think of the children!

    This may be the first time in my life I've ever used that term and actually backed what was being proposed.

    Yes I'd like to have some of those options as well (minus the whole someone else deciding to delete everything for me), but I'll be more than happy to have some of the population get it versus none. Especially considering that children have no feasible way of understanding the consequences of handing over their data.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: children have no feasible way of understanding the consequences of handing over their data

      Visibly quite a lot of adults lack that ability as well - as soon as they connect to Facebook.

  6. 45RPM Silver badge

    I echo what many others have said here (that this should apply to everyone). The problem, it seems to me, is that the US is currently being ‘governed’ by a criminal cabal which has somehow hijacked the Republican Party. Unless there’s money in it for the man at the top, Don Corletrumpe, nothing is going to happen - and not only is this not going to directly benefit Trump, it may actually inconvenience some of those who have his ear. So this eminently sensible plan is DOA.

    It is a great pity that politics is as partisan as it is, and not only in the US. The attitude of Republican / Democrat / Labour / Tory no matter what the policies and no matter what the consequences is insane - politics is not a football team. Look at what’s happening - look at the lunacy of the leader of the party and, if you really can’t bear to vote for another ‘team’, consider spoiling your ballot - or not voting at all. Better yet, just leave the tribalism out of politics.

    I look forward to a future where the Republican Party regains its sanity.

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      @45rpm

      Who would you vote for in the uk then?

      I had a choice of the 3 main parties at the council elections. It really wasn’t much of a choice and was pointless spoiling my ballot as it would not have made a difference here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Who would you vote for in the uk then?

        At least they asked when it came to UK sovereignty and membership in the EU. In much of the Western world voting cannot result in any real change. Most in the West did not want to export their jobs and import more workers, spend more money invading other countries and less on fellow citizens and almost none thought that the wealthy shouldn't pay the same total tax rates as the average taxpayer.

        Voting did nothing to change those trends. In the USA it results in Trump in Canada it results in Trudeau.

        Of course Canadians that know their country (very few have any idea) know that voting cannot change anything significant and it never has. This is because Canada is ruled by the appointed, not the Elected.

        Of Canada's three branches of government two are appointed, the Court and Senate, and the third with elected members are controlled by party rule. The Elected do not vote to the benefit of constituents or their hopes and dreams, they vote as told to by the party even when doing so is very much not in the interest of constituents or Canadians. If democracy did manage to break out in the Canadian House of Commons the appointed Senate and Court are there to protect our Elite.

        Canadians can wish and vote all they want for some basic rights to their data and data they generate but that's all they can do. Voting can rearrange deck chairs, change the music even but that's about it.

        and of course the usual disclaimer: This site is moderated, all posts including this one meets the objectives of the site, and you'll never see or know which ones didn't.

        1. Teiwaz

          Re: Who would you vote for in the uk then?

          At least they asked when it came to UK sovereignty and membership in the EU.

          The UK has never usually gone in for offering the public a choice outside the carefully choreographed Elections.

          Which may go a long way to explain how badly handled the EU one was.

      2. jelabarre59

        Who would you vote for in the uk then?

        I had a choice of the 3 main parties at the council elections. It really wasn’t much of a choice and was pointless spoiling my ballot as it would not have made a difference here.

        We all need to implement the Libertarian practice of automatically adding "None Of The Above" to every ballot.

        1. earl grey
          Facepalm

          i almost agree

          We all need to implement the Libertarian practice of automatically adding "None Of The Above" to every ballot.

          You need to also put on there that if "none of the above" wins, the others are automatically prohibited from running again...

    2. earl grey
      Facepalm

      I look forward to a future where the Republican Party regains its sanity.

      I look forward to a future where all the parties regain their sanity.

      TFTFY

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Step 1.

    Pass a law you can't enact. It's the internet, good luck forcing someone to respect kids privacy when they aren't located in your country.

    Step 2.

    Pass a law enabling you to control said internet because you can't enact step 1, won't somebody think of the children.

    1. Medixstiff

      Step 3. Pass a law stating the internet must delete all data via the use of an "erase" button, without keeping the data that was erased but let US law enforcement get to the data if they need to....and don't tell The US government you technology companies can't do this.

  8. msknight

    Won't somebody please think of the children!!!

    You'd better try telling that to some of the parents that let their kids play 18+ rated games and never bother to check the equipment that their rug rats are using... because that's someone elses job to ensure they don't have it in the first place.... 'innit.

    http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2015/03/head_teachers_in_the_uk_issue_warning_to_parents_on_18-rated_games_being_played_by_children

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well thats one way to up the social media entry age.

    I had to explain to someone the other day why all the social media companies don't allow under 13's. Most naively think it because they think 13 is a "responsible age".

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Well thats one way to up the social media entry age.

      In some ways you have to be thankful for US social media companies believing COPPA applies everywhere, because the UK didn't do a damn thing. If they applied UK law to UK residents then it would have been a free-for-all from age 0.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well thats one way to up the social media entry age.

        In some ways you have to be thankful for US social media companies believing COPPA applies everywhere, because the UK didn't do a damn thing.

        Neither did the US - as long as corporations cut & pasted some COPPA boilerplate onto a registration form and added an "I promise I'm over 13, honest" button then everybody pretended all was fine and nobody had to do anything.

        1. onefang

          Re: Well thats one way to up the social media entry age.

          "I promise I'm over 13, honest"

          On one of my web sites I have a "I'm allegedly an adult in my country. " tick box.

      2. Teiwaz

        Re: Well thats one way to up the social media entry age.

        If they applied UK law to UK residents then it would have been a free-for-all from age 0.

        If the current crop had any say, the Internet would consist of 'lies told to children' also for adults and nothing else. You wouldn't be able to see any adult content outside of government offices or without signing a register.

  10. anothercynic Silver badge

    Do Not Track Kids Act?

    What? No cutesy backronym? No cutesy acronym? The US Congress disappoints me!

    Booooooooo! ;-)

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: Do Not Track Kids Act?

      Don't worry, that's the practical name. Its real name is Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.

      1. Jay Lenovo
        Joke

        The Online "Predator" Act

        We must protect the children.. "Get to the COPPA!"

        -Congressman Dutch Schwarzenegger

        1. Teiwaz

          Re: The Online "Predator" Act

          They didn't think that acronym through.

          COPPA feel?

          Acrymoany.

  11. revilo

    big question: how to verify age?

    How can a website or service determine whether the user is a kid?

    It looks as if implementing this would actually reduce the privacy as

    the user has to provide data which allows age verification.

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: big question: how to verify age?

      The usual way is to demand a credit card. This at least sorts out the ones too young to reach Mom's purse while she's not looking, and the slightly older ones who can't get one of the many for sale online (did Silk Road require age verification?). Avoiding infinite regress might involve buying a gift card with sofa-change.

      Of course, the sites would _never_ charge anything to that card, and have rock-solid security so the alleged credit cards of a few million little darlings will never be stolen.

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    So are all the websites that currently allow 13+ children to register going to delete the accounts of anyone who is under 15 when this new law comes in?

    The horse has already left the stable regarding children well under 13 signing up and using sites such as Facebook. Some schools even actively set up Facebook pages for the kids to help with homework etc.

    Heck people have Facebook accounts for pets which are clearly under 13.

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