FTC hands down new online privacy rules for children

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"The Internet of 2012 is vastly different from the Internet of more than a decade ago,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said last month when announcing the rules. COPPA was originally passed in 1998. 

The update to COPPA extends child’s privacy protections to apps, games and website plug-ins for the first time.

The FTC began to pursue revisions to COPPA in 2010, and received more than 350 comments from industries about what changes to enact.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association told the FTC it was concerned with language that might make a person or company liable if a child for any personal information, such as birth date, to play a game online or “participate in an online activity.”

In the final rulemaking, the FEC amended a proposal that would require websites to delete all personal information of young people. Instead, the agency required sites to take “reasonable measures” to delete the information a child has entered before going public, and also to delete them from its records.

The Association for Competitive Technology, the Direct Marketing Association, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau responded to the commission, noting concerns that a third-party link encouraging a child to "like" something on Facebook or Tweet an activity might make them subject to COPPA penalties.

In the Thursday’s Federal Register document, the FTC said that websites and third parties should be prepared to protect children if their products are directed at children 12 and under.

“Child-directed sites or services whose primary target audience is children must continue to presume all users are children and to provide COPPA protections accordingly,” the commission wrote.

The rule changes have received bipartisan support in Congress.

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