Against the backdrop of an increasingly digital society, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, which currently gives parents control over what personal information websites may collect from children under 13.
Among the proposed revisions is the re-definition of personal information to include geo-location information, the removal of email plus as a valid parental consent mechanism, the classification of screen name and photos as personal information and outlawing the practice of behavioral advertising on children’s websites (unless verifiable parental consent is provided).
The amended propositions are designed to ensure that the guidelines continue to protect children’s privacy as online technologies evolve and re-shape the definitions of personal information, collection, parental notice, and the role of self-regulatory “safe harbor” programs.
The proposed changes come as a reaction to the the influx of mobile devices and social networking opportunities at kids’ fingertips. For one, a reported 7.5 million kids under the age of 13 are reportedly on Facebook.
The FTC previously reviewed the COPPA Rule in 2005, but no changes were made.