On March 1, 2022, President Biden, in his first State of the Union address, called on Congress to strengthen privacy protections for children, including by banning online platforms from excessive data collection and targeted advertising for children and young people. President Biden called for these heightened protections as part of his unity agenda to address the nation’s mental health crisis, especially the growing concern about the harms of digital technologies, particularly social media, to the mental health and well-being of children and young people. President Biden not only urged for stronger protections for children’s data and privacy, but also for interactive digital service providers to prioritize safety-by-design standards and practices. In his address, President Biden called on online platforms to “prioritize and ensure the health, safety and well-being of children and young people above profit and revenue in the design of their products and services.” President Biden also called for a stop to “discriminatory algorithmic decision-making that limits opportunities” and impacts the mental well-being of children and young people.
President Biden’s address aligns with recent proposals by several lawmakers with respect to children’s privacy. As we have previously reported, the proposed Protecting the Information of Vulnerable Children and Youth Act would amend the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by increasing the age of children protected under the law from 13 to 16 and provide a number of other protections, including a ban on targeted advertising directed at children. Additionally, the proposed Kids Internet Design and Safety Act aims to protect children and teens from online manipulation and harm, including by (1) banning the use of features that increase screen time and app or website usage by children and teens (e.g., auto-play settings, push alerts); (2) prohibiting the amplification of harmful content on websites and apps designed for children and teens; and (3) prohibiting manipulative marketing to children and teens (e.g., influencer marketing, marketing with interactive elements).