CDD will soon file at the FTC on how to ensure the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act [COPPA] can better protect the online privacy of children under 13.Â It’s a 1998 law that we led the campaign to have enacted.Â Here’s a brief excerpt from what our colleague Prof. Kathryn Montgomery told the FTC today:
Statement of Kathryn C. Montgomery, PhD
Professor, School of Communication
Protecting Kidsâ€™ Privacy Online: Reviewing the COPPA Rule
Federal Trade Commission
June 2, 2010
For the past decade, the Childrenâ€™s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has served as an effective safeguard for young consumers in the online marketing environment. Because the legislation was passed during the early stages of Internet e-commerce, COPPA established a clear set of â€œrules of the roadâ€ to help guide the development of the childrenâ€™s digital marketplace. The law created a level playing field, ensuring that every commercial playerâ€”from the largest childrenâ€™s media companies to the smallest start-ups â€“ would treat young people fairly.
Congress intended COPPAâ€™s basic framework to be flexible, anticipating changes in both technology and business practices, and requiring periodic reviews by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure its continued effectiveness. Todayâ€™s children are growing up in a ubiquitous digital media environment, where mobile devices, instant messaging, social networks, virtual reality, avatars, interactive games, and online video have become ingrained in their personal and social experiences. The online marketing practices of the 1990s have been eclipsed by a new generation of tracking and targeting techniques.
In its current review, the Federal Trade Commission must ensure that its COPPA rules include the full range of Internet-enabled or -connected services, including the increasingly ever-present cell phones children use, along with Web-connected gaming devices and online, interactive video.Â Moreover, COPPAâ€™s definition of personal information must be revised to include the latest methods of identifying and targeting online consumers, covering the so-called â€œcookiesâ€ that are used for interactive marketing data collection, as well as â€œmobile geo-location information.â€ With these and other necessary updates, the law will continue to ensure that children reap the benefits of the digital age without compromising their privacy, safety, and wellbeing.