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New FTC online privacy rules give children stronger protection, grants parents more control

By Daniel S Levine,

The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that it has made some crucial updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, strengthening children’s privacy and giving parents more control over the information their children can give out.

The FTC began its review of the COPPA rules in 2010 to make sure that they had caught up with the constantly changing technology that is in the hands of children now.

Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in 1998 and FTC chairman Jon D. Leibowitz said that amendments were necessary since so many of today’s technology didn’t exist at the time. “Congress enacted Coppa in the desktop era and we live in an era of smartphones and mobile marketing,” he said, reports The New York Times. “This is a landmark update of a seminal piece of legislation.”

One of the major amendments includes what personal information companies can ask from children under 13 without parental approval and it also gives companies a new, streamlined process to get parental consent. It also closed a loophole that allowed third-party plug-ins within apps to get information from children without their parents’ approval. Those third parties now have to follow COPPA.

The FTC also targeted data collectors, ensuring that website operators can only release children’s information to companies that are secure and will keep it confidential.

While some say that this is was a victory for website operators, very few companies were represented at today’s press conference. The adopted rules were less restrictive than ones that Apple, Twitter, Google and others objected to.

The new rules go into effect on July 1, 2013.

 
 

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