Consumer Reports writes in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request for comments on potential updates to the COPPA Rule.
Children’s privacy continues to require protection by the FTC in light of well-documented evidence that compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is uneven among apps, connected toys, and online services. While we suggest some improvements to the 2013 Rule, we also urge the Commission to use its authority under 6(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act to fully understand how kids’ personal information is treated before the 2013 Rule can be modified, in order to ensure that children and their data are protected. Regardless of any future changes to the Rule, the FTC must fully enforce the current requirements of COPPA now in order to ensure that companies are incentivized to comply with the law and that children’s personal information is being treated correctly.
Furthermore, we urge the Commission to not roll back protections for children in response to urging from industry. Nationwide, states are considering passing strong protections for all consumers’ digital information. At the federal level, Congress has held many hearings on the issue, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have introduced federal privacy bills. At a time when the country is working towards stronger privacy protections for all, the Commission should not consider weakening protections for some of the most vulnerable: children.