WASHINGTON DC – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, yesterday, December 8, sent a letter to Facebook about the company’s recent release of “Messenger Kids,”an app designed specifically for children 12 and under.
Facebook Messenger, both limited in scope and ability, allows parents to set up profiles with their kids, and connect them with friends or relatives through text and video chat. Given the sensitive nature of children’s personal information, the Senators are concerned that Messenger Kids must take responsible steps to protect their privacy and comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The Act protects children’s privacy by providing parents with tools to control the information collected online about their children ages 12 and under.
Senator Markey is the House author of COPPA.
“We remain concerned about where sensitive information collected through this app could end up and for what purpose it could be used,” write the Senators to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in their letter. “Facebook must take heightened care in ensuring the company creates a safe and controlled environment for its young users, complete with parental consent.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
In the letter to Facebook, Senators Markey and Blumenthal ask questions that include:
- Will Facebook commit to keeping all of its applications and services for children 12 and under advertisement free?
- What information is shared with Facebook’s family of companies or its vendors and service providers?
- What cybersecurity is built into Messenger Kids?
- Will any of the information collected from Messenger Kids be used once a child turns 13 and signs up for her own Facebook account?
- In what ways did Facebook work with child development experts to design the app?