Protecting Children on Mobile Devices? AppRights Meets with Common Sense Media

Thursday, July 26, 2012

By Slade Bond, Technology Policy Fellow, Office of Rep. Hank Johnson

Since launching AppRights yesterday, we’ve already heard from many of you via AppRights.us and on Twitter.  And we’re listening.

When he announced this project, Congressman Johnson promised to open up the legislative process.  To be as transparent as possible, we will do our best to keep you in the loop as stakeholders approach us with their ideas.

We want your reactions.  This interactivity will help the Congressman and his team identify the best ideas for mobile privacy legislation.

Earlier today, our staff met with Common Sense Media, one of the first groups that reached out to us after yesterday’s launch.  Their mission statement: “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.”  One of their top priorities is legislation that strengthens privacy safeguards for children and teens.

According to studies performed and provided by Common Sense Media, 88% of parents say they would support a law that requires search engines and social networking sites to obtain users’ permission before using their personal information.  They also report that 92% of teens and 94% of parents say they should be allowed to delete personal information from search engines and social networking sites.

Common Sense Media supports the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011” (H.R. 1895), which Rep. Ed Markey introduced on May 11, 2011.  One of its provisions prohibits internet companies from collecting children’s personal or location information and would only allow information collection from minors between 13 and 17 with the minor’s consent.  It also calls for an “eraser button” to enable deletion of information about children and minors to the extent that this is technically feasible. 

What do you think? 

Should search engines and social networking sites need consent before collecting or using children’s personal information?  Should children and teens be allowed to view or delete the information that websites gather about them?  What about adults -- why should the standards be different for different age groups?

Let us know via the secure form at AppRights.us, via Twitter (@AppRightsUS), or on Facebook.

For more information on this issue—and of course, with their permission—here are a few documents provided by Common Sense Media supporting their arguments: