March 3rd, 2004

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's floor statement on the introduction of the Children's Listbroker Privacy Act

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President and colleagues, there is now clear evidence that it is open season for large-scale commercial marketing to the Nation’s smallest children. As a result, today I am introducing with the distinguished chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens, legislation to protect the privacy of America’s children.

I suspect parents of very young children would not want their children’s names and addresses, their e-mail addresses, their ages and other data treated as a simple marketplace commodity to be freely bought and sold for a profit with no questions asked. Yet that is exactly what happens every day.

Parents may not be aware of it, but large list brokers routinely advertise and sell information on very young children for marketing purposes. Their lists cover millions of children and often include such data as ethnicity, family income, and hobbies or interests. In short, commercial trafficking in personal information about very young children is surprisingly commonplace.

How extreme has it gotten? Take a look at this example. The broker of this list says on their Web site that they have more than 15 million names of children from the ages of 2 to 13. They said they update it monthly. That is why it is clear it is open season for large-scale marketing to the country’s smallest children, which has concerned Senator Stevens and I. The list brokers break it down for the marketers, as well, to help them target the very young.

On this next graphic, a list broker offers marketing lists that only contain the names of preschool children ages 2 to 5. If that is too young for a particular marketer’s needs, the marketer could pursue lists of elementary school children ages 5 through 11 or junior high school kids age 11 to 13. These lists of young children are advertised openly on the Internet for anyone who is interested.

We can see the details promised: Full name, address, and age. My view is that is not information about youngsters that parents want available for sale without the consent of the parents. But it is happening now all the time because there is big money in marketing to the very young. Children, of course, influence the purchases of their parents. Sometimes they have money to spend of their own. As a result, an estimated $12 billion per year is spent on marketing to these very young children.

Unfortunately, with all the money involved, the ethics of direct marketing to children and appropriate limits get short shrift. The very young are not likely to understand the intent and tactics of marketing pitches the way adults do and may be more vulnerable to influence, manipulation, and questionable and deceptive tactics. The wholesale trafficking of specific information about individual youngsters and the use of that information to target and contact those children for marketing purposes is something that most parents find very troubling.

The suggested use for these lists runs the gamut. Here is another list broker that has 20 million names of children in preschool through eighth grade. They have all kinds of suggestions. We can see a few of the examples on the chart that make it clear exactly how great this potential market is.

That is why I am introducing today, with the bipartisan support of our colleague, the distinguished chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens, a privacy act to protect our youngsters.

The bill’s premise is simple: Trafficking in data on very young children for the purpose of commercial marketing should not be permitted in our country. Specifically, the bill bans the selling or purchasing of personal information about people that the seller and purchaser know to be very young. There would be an exception for cases where the parent is given express consent, provided that the parent had notice of what he or she was consenting to and was not required to grant consent as a condition of obtaining a desired product or service.

There would also be an exception for the sale of information for nonmarketing purposes as long as the purchaser certifies it will neither use the information for marketing nor allow others to do so. This exception would allow, for example, health care officials to still use available data to track the spread of a disease or for students, of course, to get information about various academic activities. The list buyers would have to certify that lists are not being purchased or resold for marketing; otherwise they will be in violation of the law.

The bill’s enforcement provisions track those of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Primary enforcement authority would rest with the Federal Trade Commission, and State attorneys general would be authorized to bring enforcement actions as well.

I think we all understand marketers have products they want to get out, and lists are a big part of their trade. But it is one proposition when the person on the list is an adult; it is quite another to be buying and selling and trafficking in all of this data and all of these lists on the very young.

I say to the Senate, if you just spend a little time on the Internet, you will see what I have concluded; that it is open season for the large-scale marketing that is targeted at very small children, and we ought to make an effort to draw some lines.

Yes, marketing is accepted and important with respect to adults. But I hope my colleagues will join me and Senator STEVENS today in supporting a commonsense effort to limit the way in which data is used and commercialized about America’s smallest children.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the legislation I am introducing today with Senator STEVENS be printed in the RECORD.

March 3rd, 2004

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's floor statement on the introduction of the Children's Listbroker Privacy Act

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President and colleagues, there is now clear evidence that it is open season for large-scale commercial marketing to the Nation’s smallest children. As a result, today I am introducing with the distinguished chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens, legislation to protect the privacy of America’s children.

I suspect parents of very young children would not want their children’s names and addresses, their e-mail addresses, their ages and other data treated as a simple marketplace commodity to be freely bought and sold for a profit with no questions asked. Yet that is exactly what happens every day.

Parents may not be aware of it, but large list brokers routinely advertise and sell information on very young children for marketing purposes. Their lists cover millions of children and often include such data as ethnicity, family income, and hobbies or interests. In short, commercial trafficking in personal information about very young children is surprisingly commonplace.

How extreme has it gotten? Take a look at this example. The broker of this list says on their Web site that they have more than 15 million names of children from the ages of 2 to 13. They said they update it monthly. That is why it is clear it is open season for large-scale marketing to the country’s smallest children, which has concerned Senator Stevens and I. The list brokers break it down for the marketers, as well, to help them target the very young.

On this next graphic, a list broker offers marketing lists that only contain the names of preschool children ages 2 to 5. If that is too young for a particular marketer’s needs, the marketer could pursue lists of elementary school children ages 5 through 11 or junior high school kids age 11 to 13. These lists of young children are advertised openly on the Internet for anyone who is interested.

We can see the details promised: Full name, address, and age. My view is that is not information about youngsters that parents want available for sale without the consent of the parents. But it is happening now all the time because there is big money in marketing to the very young. Children, of course, influence the purchases of their parents. Sometimes they have money to spend of their own. As a result, an estimated $12 billion per year is spent on marketing to these very young children.

Unfortunately, with all the money involved, the ethics of direct marketing to children and appropriate limits get short shrift. The very young are not likely to understand the intent and tactics of marketing pitches the way adults do and may be more vulnerable to influence, manipulation, and questionable and deceptive tactics. The wholesale trafficking of specific information about individual youngsters and the use of that information to target and contact those children for marketing purposes is something that most parents find very troubling.

The suggested use for these lists runs the gamut. Here is another list broker that has 20 million names of children in preschool through eighth grade. They have all kinds of suggestions. We can see a few of the examples on the chart that make it clear exactly how great this potential market is.

That is why I am introducing today, with the bipartisan support of our colleague, the distinguished chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens, a privacy act to protect our youngsters.

The bill’s premise is simple: Trafficking in data on very young children for the purpose of commercial marketing should not be permitted in our country. Specifically, the bill bans the selling or purchasing of personal information about people that the seller and purchaser know to be very young. There would be an exception for cases where the parent is given express consent, provided that the parent had notice of what he or she was consenting to and was not required to grant consent as a condition of obtaining a desired product or service.

There would also be an exception for the sale of information for nonmarketing purposes as long as the purchaser certifies it will neither use the information for marketing nor allow others to do so. This exception would allow, for example, health care officials to still use available data to track the spread of a disease or for students, of course, to get information about various academic activities. The list buyers would have to certify that lists are not being purchased or resold for marketing; otherwise they will be in violation of the law.

The bill’s enforcement provisions track those of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Primary enforcement authority would rest with the Federal Trade Commission, and State attorneys general would be authorized to bring enforcement actions as well.

I think we all understand marketers have products they want to get out, and lists are a big part of their trade. But it is one proposition when the person on the list is an adult; it is quite another to be buying and selling and trafficking in all of this data and all of these lists on the very young.

I say to the Senate, if you just spend a little time on the Internet, you will see what I have concluded; that it is open season for the large-scale marketing that is targeted at very small children, and we ought to make an effort to draw some lines.

Yes, marketing is accepted and important with respect to adults. But I hope my colleagues will join me and Senator STEVENS today in supporting a commonsense effort to limit the way in which data is used and commercialized about America’s smallest children.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the legislation I am introducing today with Senator STEVENS be printed in the RECORD.

March 3rd, 2004

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's floor statement on the introduction of the Children's Listbroker Privacy Act

By U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President and colleagues, there is now clear evidence that it is open season for large-scale commercial marketing to the Nation’s smallest children. As a result, today I am introducing with the distinguished chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens, legislation to protect the privacy of America’s children.

I suspect parents of very young children would not want their children’s names and addresses, their e-mail addresses, their ages and other data treated as a simple marketplace commodity to be freely bought and sold for a profit with no questions asked. Yet that is exactly what happens every day.

Parents may not be aware of it, but large list brokers routinely advertise and sell information on very young children for marketing purposes. Their lists cover millions of children and often include such data as ethnicity, family income, and hobbies or interests. In short, commercial trafficking in personal information about very young children is surprisingly commonplace.

How extreme has it gotten? Take a look at this example. The broker of this list says on their Web site that they have more than 15 million names of children from the ages of 2 to 13. They said they update it monthly. That is why it is clear it is open season for large-scale marketing to the country’s smallest children, which has concerned Senator Stevens and I. The list brokers break it down for the marketers, as well, to help them target the very young.

On this next graphic, a list broker offers marketing lists that only contain the names of preschool children ages 2 to 5. If that is too young for a particular marketer’s needs, the marketer could pursue lists of elementary school children ages 5 through 11 or junior high school kids age 11 to 13. These lists of young children are advertised openly on the Internet for anyone who is interested.

We can see the details promised: Full name, address, and age. My view is that is not information about youngsters that parents want available for sale without the consent of the parents. But it is happening now all the time because there is big money in marketing to the very young. Children, of course, influence the purchases of their parents. Sometimes they have money to spend of their own. As a result, an estimated $12 billion per year is spent on marketing to these very young children.

Unfortunately, with all the money involved, the ethics of direct marketing to children and appropriate limits get short shrift. The very young are not likely to understand the intent and tactics of marketing pitches the way adults do and may be more vulnerable to influence, manipulation, and questionable and deceptive tactics. The wholesale trafficking of specific information about individual youngsters and the use of that information to target and contact those children for marketing purposes is something that most parents find very troubling.

The suggested use for these lists runs the gamut. Here is another list broker that has 20 million names of children in preschool through eighth grade. They have all kinds of suggestions. We can see a few of the examples on the chart that make it clear exactly how great this potential market is.

That is why I am introducing today, with the bipartisan support of our colleague, the distinguished chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens, a privacy act to protect our youngsters.

The bill’s premise is simple: Trafficking in data on very young children for the purpose of commercial marketing should not be permitted in our country.  Specifically, the bill bans the selling or purchasing of personal information about people that the seller and purchaser know to be very young. There would be an exception for cases where the parent is given express consent, provided that the parent had notice of what he or she was consenting to and was not required to grant consent as a condition of obtaining a desired product or service.

There would also be an exception for the sale of information for nonmarketing purposes as long as the purchaser certifies it will neither use the information for marketing nor allow others to do so. This exception would allow, for example, health care officials to still use available data to track the spread of a disease or for students, of course, to get information about various academic activities.  The list buyers would have to certify that lists are not being purchased or resold for marketing; otherwise they will be in violation of the law.

The bill’s enforcement provisions track those of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Primary enforcement authority would rest with the Federal Trade Commission, and State attorneys general would be authorized to bring enforcement actions as well.

I think we all understand marketers have products they want to get out, and lists are a big part of their trade. But it is one proposition when the person on the list is an adult; it is quite another to be buying and selling and trafficking in all of this data and all of these lists on the very young.

I say to the Senate, if you just spend a little time on the Internet, you will see what I have concluded; that it is open season for the large-scale marketing that is targeted at very small children, and we ought to make an effort to draw some lines.

Yes, marketing is accepted and important with respect to adults. But I hope my colleagues will join me and Senator STEVENS today in supporting a commonsense effort to limit the way in which data is used and commercialized about America’s smallest children.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the legislation I am introducing today with Senator STEVENS be printed in the RECORD.

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