Last week, the US House of Representatives held a hearing on Holding Big Tech Accountable, spotlighting the need to keep children and their information safe while they are online. Tech policy expert and Rego Board of Advisors Member Rick Lane testified on the risks kids face online today and ways Congress can step up to protect them.
Building a safer and more secure Internet for children will require Congress to focus on a variety of interlocking issues, including online privacy protections and broader liability and safety standards – particularly in the context of digital payment systems and apps. Lane focused on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which makes it unlawful for a “website or online service” to collect personal information from a child under thirteen—whether for the service’s own use or to sell to others—without first obtaining parental consent.
Currently there are dozens of financial apps on the market for kids and teens. However, only the Rego Payment Architectures “REGO” digital wallet platform, Mazoola, is independently COPPA certified and ensures a child’s identity is kept private. Due to a legal loophole, other financial apps for children currently allow the collection of a great deal of their personal information without parental consent. Many fall into a dangerous FinTech Child Privacy Protection Gap where kids as young as 13 are treated as adults and have their data harvested, profiled, and targeted. According to a recent VICE article, it’s incredibly hard for a parent to control the sensitive information being shared about their children online, including their names, birthdates, email addresses, GPS location history, and now financial transactions. And when this data is hacked or breached, it can set in motion a lifetime of identity theft and devastating financial consequences.