Kids’ Online Privacy Law Gets an Update

Posted by · December 20, 2012 3:19 pm
courtesy of woodleywonderworks flickr

Image courtesy of woodleywonderworks flickr

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission made the first considerable change to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in almost 15 years. As of July 1st, 2013, COPPA will contain regulations to adjust how websites are allowed to gather information about their users under the age of 13. Primarily, all sites and services have to obtain parental permission to collect any information in the first place, and limits what they are allowed to collect as well.
The improvements were inspired by expanding technology that young Americans are exposed to thanks to social networks, smartphones and an increasing number of mobile devices.

The commission has been mulling over the update since 2010. Pressure from tech companies like Facebook made it difficult to push through stipulations that would hold them responsible for how children use their services. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz explained in the press release yesterday that before they finalized the language of the additions to the rule, they wanted to make sure they covered all the concerns of parents as well as companies that develop online sites and services.

“I am confident that the amendments to the COPPA Rule strike the right balance between protecting innovation that will provide rich and engaging content for children, and ensuring that parents are informed and involved in their children’s online activities,” said Leibowitz.

The amendments to COPPA clarify the extent to which kids are protected, specifically defining personal information as location information, photos, and videos. Companies are offered an easy process for getting parental approval. There is no longer a loophole that permits third-parties to gather said info and ensures those third-parties must follow COPPA. The rule now regulates tracking browsing and other activity “over time and across different websites or online services.” It increases the standard for information protection, retention, and deletion.

Now that your kid is protected, you can use your computer (or phone, tablet, etc.) as a babysitter just like you’ve always used the TV.