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Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 10/04/2012

Developers of education-related apps oppose changes to children’s online privacy laws

Protecting children’s privacy online may be paramount for parents, but proposed changes to stringent online privacy laws could stifle large and small Internet operators alike, an industry group says.

For developers creating educational apps for children, the combined financial cost of compliance with updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act could exceed $271 million, or more than $9,000 in legal and other costs per app, according to Association for Competitive Technology, an international advocacy organization for developers.


FALLS CHURCH, VA: Two-year-old Maggie Awad, plays an app game called, Icee Maker, on her mother's, Paula Mansour, IPod Touch, at their home in Falls Church, Virginia, November 10, 2011. (Melina Mara - THE WASHINGTON POST)
The FTC recently proposed expanding COPPA, which limits what personal information a developer can collect from a child without parental consent. The changes are meant to “clarify responsbillity under COPPA when third parties such as advertising networks...collect personal information from users through child-directed websites or services,” according to the FTC’s call for public comment.

The proposed revisions could further restrict the collection of analytics, or information about how a user interacts with an app. Some analytics could help educational app developers learn which parts of the app children are struggling with, for example.

The commission has been reviewing comments on its proposals, hearing opposition from large internet companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple, who have cited free speech violations among other reasons, as well as organizations like the ACT representing small developers.

The costs to the educational app industry — 87 percent of which is produced by small businesses — could “discourage small business participants,” the ACT wrote in its comments.

With average total earnings ranging from about $5,000 to $10,000 per app depending on the platform, the cost of compliance could exceed revenue for a developer, the group said.

The proposal “discourages small business participants by requiring exorbitant amounts of time and energy interpreting unclear regulations, [and] eliminates the ability to collect non-personal information to assist in furthering the educational goals of apps…” the ACT wrote.

Read more about opposition to children’s online privacy laws here.

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By  |  09:00 AM ET, 10/04/2012

 
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