Protecting Children’s Privacy at Home, at School, and Everywhere in Between

Author: Ariel Fox Johnson


Summary 

Young people today face surveillance unlike any previous generation, at home, at school, and everywhere in between. Constant use of technology while their brains are still developing makes them uniquely vulnerable to privacy harms, including identity theft, cyberbullying, physical risks, algorithmic labeling, and hyper-commercialism. A lack of privacy can ultimately lead children to self-censor and can limit their opportunities. Already-vulnerable populations—who have fewer resources, less digital literacy, or are non-native English speakers—are most at risk.


Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have repeatedly considered efforts to better protect children’s privacy, but the next administration must ensure that this is a priority that is actually acted upon by supporting strong privacy laws and providing additional resources and authority to the FTC and support to the Department of Education (ED). The next administration should also establish a task force to explore how to best support and protect students. And the FTC should use its current authority to increase its understanding of the children’s technology market and robustly enforce a strong Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rule.


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About the Author

Ariel Fox Johnson is senior counsel for policy and privacy at Common Sense Media. Her work focuses on enhancing family privacy rights, strengthening students' educational privacy, and promoting robust consumer protections in the online world. She frequently advises policymakers, industry, and tech experts and has helped develop student, consumer, and children’s privacy laws. Ariel is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School. Prior to joining Common Sense, Ariel worked on privacy, media, intellectual property, and technology matters at corporate law firms and clerked for the Honorable Peter J. Messitte (D. Md.).