FTC seeks comment on important online privacy changes

“While some privacy advocates would like to raise the COPPA age threshold because of an increasing use of social networking sites by teenagers, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, I believe the FTC showed common-sense restraint in taking a go-slow approach,” Bono Mack said. “The last thing we want to do is to inhibit technological advances and stifle growth of the internet by moving forward in a new policy area without a really good, smart game plan in place. I look forward to having this particular debate in the months ahead as we continue our broader hearings on privacy.”

Balkam agreed with Bono Mack’s age threshold assessment, noting that his organization “is pleased to see that the FTC has determined that 13 remains the appropriate age. … Research released this year found that there were increasing numbers of children under 13 accessing social networks, against their terms of use. Changes to the statutory definition could lead to a substantial increase in children lying about their age, and thus negate protections afforded to younger children through COPPA and specific website protections for minors.”

Those interested in commenting on the changes should write “COPPA Rule Review, 16 CFR Part 312, Project No. P-104503” on comments, and file comments online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/2011copparulereview. Comments are accepted until Nov. 28.

Laura Ascione

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