The FTC is proposing changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rule that will increase uncertainty for website operators and app developers and could bring a whole new set of sites and services into COPPA’s scope. COPPA requires operators of websites and online services that are targeted to children, or who know a particular user is a child under the age of 13, to obtain verified parental consent before collecting the child’s personal information.
A lot has changed about the collection and use of personal information online since COPPA was enacted in 1998, and the FTC started the current Rule review process in 2010. CDT weighed in on previous rounds of comments, recognizing the need to bring COPPA up to date but cautioning the FTC that changes to COPPA’s age limit or the range of sites it covers would have severe consequences for minors’ and adults’ First Amendment rights.
The FTC has been a strong voice in keeping COPPA focused on children under 13, but, as we discussed in Ars Technica last week, several of their most recent proposals introduce vagueness and uncertainty into COPPA’s scope, which could have real impacts on online innovation and free expression. CDT, joined by the American Library Association, filed comments yesterday that discuss how.
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