FTC seeks comment on important online privacy changes

COPPA has not been updated since 2005.

Possible changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) are on the horizon as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed updating the law to reflect how technology has changed web browsing and communication, and the agency is seeking comments on those proposed changes.

Under COPPA’s online privacy rules, operators of websites or online services aimed at children under the age of 13, or others who have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from children under 13, must obtain parental permission before collecting, using, or disclosing such information from children.

The online privacy law went under review but remained unchanged in 2005. But in light of rapidly evolving technology and changes in the way children use and access the internet, the FTC has initiated another review to update several definitions and components of the law.

“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. “We look forward to the continuing thoughtful input from industry, children’s advocates, and other stakeholders as we work to update the rule.”

Five proposed online privacy changes

Definitions: COPPA requires covered operators to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children. The FTC proposes updating the definition of “personal information” to include “geolocation” information and certain types of persistent identifiers used for functions other than the website’s internal operations, such as tracking cookies used for behavioral advertising. In addition, the agency proposes modifying the definition of “collection” so operators may allow children to participate in interactive communities, without parental consent, as long as the operators take reasonable measures to delete all or virtually all children’s personal information before it is made public.

Laura Ascione

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