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FTC unveils updates to online privacy laws for kids

August 1, 2012

FTC Unveils Updates to Online Privacy Laws for Children

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed additional modifications to the draft Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, aimed at better protecting children online. The proposed changes, which will add to the revisions submitted by the FTC in September 2011, clarify that third-party data collectors and site operators are equally responsible for ensuring that parental consent is obtained before information is collected from children under the age of 13. Both parties would be penalized for any infractions.
“COPPA is an important tool to protect children online. In order for it to remain effective, however, we must ensure that the law’s interpretation keeps up with the rapid advancement of technology,” said Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union. “The additional modifications proposed by the FTC today would close some loopholes and give parents the peace of mind that their children aren’t being tracked on websites designed for kids without permission.”
Today’s announcement gives more clarity to website operators and third party information collectors, including Facebook, plug-ins, or advertisers, regarding their responsibilities under COPPA. The rule would also allow websites with a mixed audience to age-screen all visitors and enforce COPPA requirements only against those self-identifying as younger than 13.
Rusu said, “It is critical that website operators and third party advertisers alike are held to the same standards when it comes to protecting our children online. This proposal makes it clear to industry partners that protecting children’s online privacy is a shared priority.”
The FTC is expected to accept public comments on the new proposals through September 10.