What is the future of children’s online data privacy in the U.S.? | The TechTank Podcast

Nicol Turner Lee, Jennifer Huddleston , and
Jennifer Huddleston
Jennifer Huddleston Technology Policy Research Fellow - CATO Institute
Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood Executive Director, Co-Founder - LGBT Tech Partnership & Institute

January 29, 2024

  • The widespread use of technology by children has triggered calls for comprehensive regulations. This has led to significant discussions about privacy and speech concerns not only for children but also for teenagers and adults.
  • At the beginning of the year, there is uncertainty about how Congress will address the protection of children’s privacy online. Bipartisan federal privacy legislation is considered overdue, and the path Congress will take is yet to be determined.
Elementary school children share an electronic tablet on the first day of class in the new school year, September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Elementary school children share an electronic tablet on the first day of class in the new school year in Nice, September 3, 2013. Source: REUTERS/Eric Maillard

At the start of the year, much is still unknown on how Congress will proceed with protecting children’s privacy online, as well as the likelihood of passing some type of bipartisan, federal privacy legislation, which is long overdue. In 2023, various legislative proposals made it out of Senate committees, including version 2.0 of the longstanding, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, and a new bill led by U.S. Senators Blumenthal (D-CT) and Blackburn (R-TN), the Kid’s Online Safety Act, to increase parental controls over the online experiences of minors, and establishment of more rigid age-verification and age-assurance measures. In December 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed its own set of restrictions to strengthen existing children’s privacy laws by proposing more restrictions on the use, disclosure, and monetization of the personal information of minors.

These federal activities sit against the flurry of state-led activities, which are imposing their own preferences for data privacy that will potentially make the current debate murkier. Overall, the pervasive use of technology by children has prompted calls for regulations adopting comprehensive approaches, sparking significant dialogues around privacy and speech concerns for children, teenagers, and adults alike.

In the latest episode of the TechTank Podcast, cohost Nicol Turner Lee speaks with Jennifer Huddleston, a Technology Policy Research Fellow at the CATO Institute, and Christopher Wood, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of LGBT Tech Partnership & Institute. Together, they delve into the complexities surrounding regulatory efforts and explore the evolving landscape of how our kids interact with technology. They also offer their predictions on what may be next for Congress, states, and other stakeholders in the policy debates over children’s privacy.

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