This week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., was able to get an amendment added to an appropriations bill and though the U.S. House to protect children’s privacy by giving the federal government more power to go after companies that mine their data.
Noting that increasingly companies are mining children’s data, Castor proposed giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) more power to target bad actors. After her amendment was added to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act on Wednesday, Castor weighed in on her reasons for introducing it.
“Hardly a day goes by when personal, private or financial data isn’t lost to an online data breach or theft, but when the FTC goes after bad actors it is often too late and penalties are too insignificant. My amendment encourages the FTC to take enforcement action against companies that fail to protect children’s privacy and encourages Congress to give the FTC the resources it needs to fulfill its overall mission,” Castor said.
[The FTC has broad authority to protect consumers and is tasked specifically with targeting fraud, deceptive advertising, robocalls, identity theft and online privacy. Children have greater privacy protections under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), but the Act is in need of greater teeth,” Castor’s office noted, adding her amendment “permits the agency to use additional resources to better protect children’s privacy.”
“My colleagues on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and I are working to improve children’s online privacy protections and my amendment is a reminder to the FTC that it must take its mission seriously by going after companies who fail to protect children’s privacy,” Castor said.
Castor pointed to the FTC settling a case earlier this year against Musical.ly,–now called TikTok–for illegally collecting data on children. While the company paid out $5.7 million to the FTC, Castor noted that the funds were only .0076 percent of Bytedance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok.
“Unfortunately, the penalty was too low to ensure online companies are following the law,” U.S. Castor said. “No CEO is going to blink an eye at a fine that is inconsequential. Companies will just see small FTC fines as a cost of doing business and will continue to elevate profits over privacy, especially when it comes to our kids.
“Americans deserve to have greater privacy protections for what they do online,” Castor added.