FTC Proposes Changes To Law Protecting Kids' Privacy Online

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that it is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Act, which would strengthen the law’s ability to protect children under the age of 13.

The proposed modifications to COPPA would extend privacy protections to more digital platforms popular among children, including mobile devices and Internet-enabled gaming. The changes would update the definition of what constitutes a child’s “personal information” to include the child’s geo-location data and certain types of identifiers that companies use for behavioral marketing. Other changes would include new and effective methods to obtain parental consent, as well as stronger requirements for online confidentiality and security as they apply to children.

Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for our parent company Consumers Union, praised the FTC’s proposal:

As mobile technology rapidly expands, we’re pleased the FTC is taking steps to ensure that children’s online activities are safeguarded in the fast-changing digital world. The new protections are critical to making the Internet safer for children under 13. This proposal lets parents can rest easier about their children’s online safety, with the inclusion of more parental involvement and safeguards to ensure their child is not being targeted or tracked online.

Last spring, a study done by our cousins at Consumer Reports found that 38% of minors on Facebook are actually under the age of 13. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said young kids actually belong on his website and the laws need to be changed to allow it, but that doing so is not at the top of his to-do list.