Press Release

Child Privacy Expert Warns Policymakers Must Enact Meaningful Federal Privacy Laws to Ensure Students’ Online Safety, Protect Against Dire Consequences

April 17, 2023


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Interest Privacy Center Founder and President Amelia Vance today offered testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce during a hearing entitled, “Addressing America’s Data Privacy Shortfalls: How a National Standard Fills Gaps to Protect Americans’ Personal Information.”

During the hearing, Vance urged policymakers to take action by enacting comprehensive federal privacy law that include appropriate protections for children and students who are uniquely vulnerable to online harms. The nation’s existing federal privacy laws that provide the bulk of protections for children, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), have significant gaps that fail to provide children and students with the protections they deserve. Read Vance’s testimony here.

“These are serious shortcomings in federal law, created in large part by lightning-fast growth in the tech industry in the decades since COPPA and FERPA were written. Recognizing some of these issues, states have introduced and passed child, teen, and student privacy protections at an astounding rate,” Vance said. “But even when these laws don’t create confusion, we’re still left with a legal landscape riddled with far more gaps than many people realize that is long overdue for modernization and clarity, especially in light of the continued rapid proliferation of emerging technologies.”

Vance expressed support for the bipartisan American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), which was approved by the Committee last Congress, noting the legislation presents a meaningful and strong step forward in the fight to strengthen federal data privacy laws. However, she warned, “it’s critical to remember children are uniquely vulnerable to certain harms, and we must create meaningful protections to safeguard them.”

Vance added, “Action to address these harms must be balanced with the real benefits that technology provides to children. Learning and social connection is greatly enhanced and facilitated by digital services. Online spaces can also be integral to fostering creative expression and providing resources related to health and well-being. Overly restrictive requirements can actually undermine the ability of children and teens to safely find community, seek help, and use technology to facilitate previously unimaginable learning opportunities.”

Vance concluded her testimony by underscoring the importance of creating baseline privacy protections for all consumers in a comprehensive consumer privacy bill would provide blanket rights for everyone and in turn, help address the gaps in current child and student protections.

To learn more about the hearing and watch an archived livestream, click here.


About PIPC

Founded in 2022, the Public Interest Privacy Center is a nonprofit organization that equips stakeholders with the insights, training, and tools needed to cultivate effective, ethical, and equitable privacy safeguards for all children and students. Our vision is that high-impact stakeholders at every tier will have the information and tools necessary to protect all children’s fundamental right to privacy. By educating and equipping high-impact groups and fostering a culture of privacy, PIPC helps create an environment where all children will enjoy privacy-protected benefits of emerging technologies and data use.

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