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FTC Revises the Online Protection Rules for Children

FTC BuildingDid you know over the last few days the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has implemented new, stricter rules in an attempt to protect the privacy of children under the age of 13?

What is the FTC doing?

In a series of sweeping changes, the FTC is cracking down on how websites and apps targeted towards kids can obtain information from minors under 13.  The agency has revised their Children Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to expand and reflect what counts as ‘personal information.’  The new amendment is closing loopholes and protecting kids from third-party companies, advertising networks, etc. seeking to collect materials such as geolocation information, IP addresses, audio file and pictures of the minors.  The rule also includes those annoying cookies that track users across various sites.

These requirements are aimed to all sites that have children as their primary target audience and are aware they are collecting personal info from children under the age of 13.

What is COPPA?

In the original version of COPPA which passed in 1998 it called for websites specifically aimed at children under 13 are required to have parents provide a form of verifiable consent before obtaining a child’s information (name, home address, etc.).

With the Internet being more accessible to children, their personal information becomes more accessible to sites making a profit off of this data.  Making these changes is a necessity for the protection of those who do not understand the technical jargon of consumer rights.

“At the FTC, protecting children’s privacy is a top priority,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.  “The updated COPPA rule helps put parents in charge of their children’s personal information as it keeps pace with changing technologies.”

Under the new rules, the FTC is closing the gap and applying a universal “do not monitor” order on these companies who now have to provide clear, easy-to-follow information about their data collecting practices.

As parents, these new amendments should be an eye opener and prompt us to properly educate our children on digital etiquette and be more involved in their online activities.  It is not enough to provide them access to kid friendly sites it is also imperative to teach them the potential harm of sharing personal information over the Web.

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