FTC Aims to Overhaul Children's Privacy Rights

Type threatpost
Reporter Chris Brook
Modified 2013-04-17T16:33:45


FTCIn hopes of revamping a law that was implemented over a decade ago, the Federal Trade Commission began to seek public comment this week on proposed revisions of rules that govern the privacy rights of children online.

In effect since 2000, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) hasn’t been reviewed since 2005, an eon in today’s rapidly evolving online landscape.

According to a .PDF of the rule review, the agency credits that landscape and what they refer to as the “explosion in children’s use of mobile devices, the proliferation of online social networking and interactive gaming,” for prompting the re-evaluation.

COPPA currently mandates that websites obtain parental consent before acquiring personal information about children under the age of 13. Proposed revisions to the law include widening the scope of how exactly “personal information” is defined.

Now the FTC is proposing that with parental consent, children’s geolocation information and tracking cookies may be collected. The revision also proposes that children be allowed to participate in interactive communities without parental consent as long as website operators take reasonable measures to delete personal information before its made public.

The FTC also hopes to tweak the existing notification process by alerting parents that their children’s information will be retained using what they’re calling a “just-in-time” method and not by a stale, overarching privacy policy. The FTC has even suggested using new technology to verify parental consent, shifting from the current two-step e-mail consent process to scanned signed consent forms, video-conferencing and possibly even government-issued IDs.

The FTC is seeking comment from those in the industry, children’s advocates and other stakeholders by Nov. 28.

The industry has seen a flurry of online tracking discussions as of late. The FTC pushed browsers to install a “Do Not Track” option for their software in December and eventually saw Google, Microsoft and Mozilla oblige.