Press Release

Welch Joins Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Protect Children’s Online Privacy

Apr 29, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) announced new cosponsors and organizational support for their bipartisan, bicameral Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0), including U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.)member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security

Along with Senator Welch, the following senators are new cosponsors of the legislation: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).   

“With COPPA 2.0 introduced in the House and new cosponsors in the Senate, momentum is quickly building for our critical legislation to protect children and teens’ online privacy,” said Senators Markey and Cassidy. “We must put an end to the pervasive online tracking and targeting of our young people. We thank our colleagues for the support of COPPA 2.0 and are committed to enacting these essential protections into law.” 

“Our children’s lives are increasingly integrated with the internet, from completing homework to connecting with friends. As our kids and grandkids spend more time online, ensuring they are protected from harm is a shared priority—whether you’re in a red state or blue state. This bill will enact crucial protections to help safeguard children and teens’ online privacy,” said Senator Welch

The number of children being exploited and abused online continues to increase at an alarming rate around the globe. In 2021, the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program received 452 CyberTips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an increase from 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vermont experienced an 150% increase in reported child exploitation and attempted exploitation online. 

New organizations supporting COPPA 2.0 include the AASA, The School Superintendents Association, American Federation of Teachers, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Consortium for School Networking, Council of the Great City Schools, National Association for Pupil Transportation, National Education Association, National Rural Education Association, National School Boards Association, Public Interest Privacy Center, and Public Knowledge. 

“The Public Interest Privacy Center (PIPC) is proud to support the updated version of COPPA 2.0 and its codification of long-standing administrative policy allowing schools to consent to educational technology uses. COPPA 2.0 finds the right balance between protecting child and teen privacy online while allowing schools to provide appropriate, technology-enhanced educational opportunities to all students,” said Amelia Vance, President of Public Interest Privacy Center.  

“We are proud to support COPPA 2.0 which will allow educators and schools to harness the full potential and benefits of educational technologies while protecting children and teens online,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations at the National Education Association. 

Representative Kathy Castor (FL-14), and Representative Tim Walberg (MI-05) introduced the House companion to COPPA 2.0. In July 2023, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee unanimously passedCOPPA 2.0

Senator Welch has supported efforts to protect children and teens’ safety online in the Senate. In a January Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Welch questioned Big Tech CEOs about the companies’ persistent failures to protect children online and the need for an independent watchdog to oversee Big Tech.  

Welch co-leads the Digital Platform Commission Act with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a bill to establish an expert and independent federal agency to regulate the tech industry, and is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA)legislation that works to provide families with the resources they need that are instrumental in protecting their children’s health and welfare online. The Senator is also a cosponsor of the bipartisan Invest in Child Safety Actwhich directs more than $5 billion in mandatory funding to investigate and target the predators and abusers who create and share child sexual abuse material online, and the bipartisan Protecting Kids from Social Media Act, which establishes a minimum age for social media users and requirements for parental consent and algorithm use for minors. 

Read the full text of the bill.