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AG Gansler Submits Children's Online Privacy Workgroup Report
Diverse panel shares numerous ideas to better protect kids' personal information
Workgroup was the result of legislation passed in 2013 General Assembly

Baltimore, MD (December 30, 2013) - Building on his efforts to protect consumers from online threats to their privacy, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today submitted the final report of the Workgroup on Children's Online Privacy Protection to two legislative committees whose jurisdiction includes digital privacy issues.

"Children are particularly vulnerable to online invasions of privacy because they may be unaware of the sensitive information they are exposing on the Internet or how the information they share might be used," said Attorney General Gansler. "This report highlights the many important issues that surround children's privacy on the Web and on mobile devices, and offers legislators tools to consider for addressing them."

The report, which is the product of six months of meetings and discussion by the 18-member Workgroup, outlines the current and future landscape of children's online privacy regulation in other states and by the federal government. It also examines the current risks and challenges to ensuring how children, with the help of their parents or guardians, can navigate the Internet safely without exposing their personal information.

Proposed recommendations considered by the Workgroup for future legislative or regulatory action (the panel did not submit formal recommendations, as many of the ideas shared below did not receive unanimous support) include:

  • Prohibiting "cloud" service providers from using any data they collect in Maryland public schools for commercial purposes;
  • Requiring encryption of sensitive information collected from and about children;
  • Enhancing education/outreach programs to better inform consumers about children's online/mobile privacy protection;
  • Adopting a so-called "eraser button" bill, which would be modeled off enacted legislation in California that allows minors to remove their postings on the Internet and social media sites, and also prohibits the advertising of harmful products that are illegal for them to use (alcohol, tobacco, guns) on websites specifically targeted to minors;
  • Ensuring adequate disclosures for online advertisements that are knowingly targeted to children;
  • Updating existing state statutory definitions of "personal information"; and
  • Providing the state greater authority to enforce the federal Children's Online Privacy
  • Protection Act by making a violation of it an unfair/deceptive trade practice under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.

The report was submitted to the Senate Finance Committee and House Economic Matters Committee, the legislative committees that have jurisdiction over digital privacy issues. The Workgroup was comprised of a diverse group of representatives of technology companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, consumer organizations, children's health advocates, privacy regulators and other stakeholders.

The full report of the Workgroup on Children's Online Privacy Protection can be found at http://www.oag.state.md.us/reports/copw.pdf

   

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