Leave COPPA--and the Kids--Alone
In her latest Huffington Post column, CDT President Leslie Harris argues against current moves to expand the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to include teens up to 17-years-old. As the law stands, only 12-and-under are covered.
COPPA, on the books now for a dozen years, has done yeoman like work in helping parents control what information is collected from their kids when they are online. Websites with content dedicated to children must follow COPPA rules, which includes gaining parental consent. However, extending those provisions "is unworkable and unwise. And because teenagers have independent rights to access information, any such law would ultimately run afoul of constitutional protections as well," Harris writes in Huffington Post.
Harris concludes her column this way:
COPPA is doing its job; there is no need to pop the hood and tinker with the law. The expansion effort is well intentioned, but the solution is shot through with privacy and free speech problems. The best move at this time can be summed up in a borrowed line from the iconic rock group Pink Floyd: "Leave them kids alone."