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Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 09/15/2011

FTC proposes new children’s online privacy rule

This story has been updated.

The Federal Trade Commission Thursday announced it is seeking comment on revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that would extend it to cover evolving technologies such as web and mobile platforms for children under the age of 13.

The proposed changes would require operators to post notice and obtain parental consent before collecting information from children, offer a larger variety of ways to obtain that consent, and provide proof that they are capable of adequately protecting children’s personal information.

It would also extend the definition of personal information to include geolocation information and information gathered from technologies such as cookies that track young users online for advertising purposes.

“In this era of rapid technological change, kids are often tech savvy but judgment poor. We want to ensure that the COPPA Rule is effective in helping parents protect their children online, without unnecessarily burdening online businesses,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a statement. “We look forward to the continuing thoughtful input from industry, children’s advocates, and other stakeholders as we work to update the Rule.”

Online privacy has been a growing concern for younger Web and mobile users, who are quick to hand over personal information to get access to a premium level or share a funny picture with friends online without necessarily considering all the consequences of their actions.

Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer hailed the agency’s move in a statement Thursday. “With more than 7.5 million Facebook users under the age of 13, we hope these COPPA revisions will be implemented and enforced as soon as possible,” he said.

The FTC rules did not extend protections to teenagers, as some had advocated.

“Some of the mechanisms for protecting younger children are not appropriate for older youth,” said Kathryn Montgomery, an American University professor who pushed for COPPA’s passage in 1998. Adolescents “are entitled to fair information practices in the digital marketplace. We urge the FTC to address this issue in its forthcoming new comprehensive privacy framework report.”

Written comments on the proposal must be submitted to the FTC by Nov. 28.

By  |  12:40 PM ET, 09/15/2011

Tags:  FTC, Kids Online

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