Facebook has told the Hill that it has not yet decided whether or not to open its social network to kids. Its policy is currently to exclude the 12-and-under set from putting their faces in the book, but according to reports, including cited by Facebook itself, millions of kids do so anyway.
The company is considering a sort of general amnesty, allowing kids to join the network with their parents' permission, but told key legislators that "at this point, we have made no final decision whether to change our current approach of prohibiting children under 13 from joining Facebook."
Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) the bipartisan duo bent on boosting online privacy protections for everybody in general and kids in particular, are not satisfied with the answer they got from Facebook to their questions about how they would handle that transition.
"The company didn't directly respond to concerns about how the site would handle kids under 12, especially with regard to data collection and sharing policies, nor if it will target advertising to child users," said the legislators in a joint release.
"While we appreciate Facebook's response to our letter," said Barton in a statement, "we still have the same serious concerns. The company made it clear they have made no final decision about opening the site to those under 12 so they are not in a position to answer our specific questions at this point."
Markey added: "I will continue to monitor this situation and look forward to receiving further clarity on any plans Facebook may have for children under 13."
Markey and Barton are co-chairs of the Congressional Privacy Caucus and co-sponsors of a kids do-not-track bill. Markey is also a chief architect of children's online privacy legislation.