Revisions to FTC's online child privacy rules take effect today

Consumer Reports News
July 1, 2013

Revisions to COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, went into effect today after nearly two years of review. The changes reflect new ways kids are using the Internet, including how they interact with mobile devices and social networking.

COPPA, first put into effect in 2000, regulates the ways in which businesses and other online operators are allowed to collect and use personal information from children under the age of 13. The new rule adds "persistent identifiers such as cookies that track a child's activity online, geolocation information, photos, videos, and audio recordings" to the definition of children's personal information.

Operators have to notify parents and get their verifiable consent before they're permitted to collect, use, or disclose such personal information, and collected information must be kept secure.

"These are important new tools for parents and children. The ways that children use the Internet have changed enormously since COPPA became law in 1998 and took effect in 2000," said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. "Kids engage in online media at earlier ages, and companies have greater access to children's personal information through social networks, mobile apps, and gaming. The new rules put stronger protections in place that are aimed at a wider variety of digital media. They help bring much-needed clarity to what's considered 'personal information,' as well as the rights and responsibilities for parents to protect their children."

The FTC is also offering an updated guide for parents called "Protecting Your Child's Privacy Online" that explains what COPPA is, how it works and what parents can do to help protect their children's privacy online.

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