Markey, Barton Concerned About Marketing Tactics Cited in FTC Complaints

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The cochairs of the House Privacy Caucus Wednesday were quick to use advocacy group complaints about viral marketing to call for legislation to better protect kids online.

After consumer groups petitioned the FCC to rule that "refer-a-friend" email solicitations on websites, including those of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) said those complaints highlighted the need for legislation to update COPPA.

Markey helped draft that bill, and has been calling for modifications to keep pace with digital online marketing techniques. "Children and teens are especially vulnerable to targeted advertising due to their use of social media tools, making it important to update COPPA for the 21st century," said Markey, "'Refer-a-friend' should not mean defer privacy protections for our nation's children and families."

"COPPA is as outdated as a cassette player," said Barton. "Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and a lot has changed since that legislation was written back in 1998."

The two legislators are cosponsors of the Do Not Track Kids Act, which would toughen COPPA by, for one thing, preventing targeted behavioral advertising aimed at children.

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