Consumers Union Praises FTC Proposal to Improve, Update Rules for Children’s Online Privacy

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Consumers Union, Nonprofit Publisher of Consumer Reports

Friday, September 16, 2011

WASHINGTON – Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today praised the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s proposal to improve and update the rules for protecting children’s online privacy.

“As mobile technology rapidly expands, we’re pleased the FTC is taking steps to ensure that children’s online activities are safeguarded in the fast-changing digital world.  The new protections are critical to making the Internet safer for children under 13.  This proposal lets parents can rest easier about their children’s online safety, with the inclusion of more parental involvement and safeguards to ensure their child is not being targeted or tracked online.”

The FTC is currently seeking public comment on its proposed changes to the rules under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, the law that gives parents control over what personal information websites may collect from children under 13.

The proposed modifications would extend privacy protections to more digital platforms popular among children, including mobile devices and Internet-enabled gaming.  The changes would update the definition of what constitutes a child’s “personal information” to include the child’s geo-location data and certain types of identifiers that companies use for behavioral marketing.  Other changes would include new and effective methods to obtain parental consent, as well as stronger requirements for online confidentiality and security as they apply to children.

Consumers Union recently called on Facebook to step up the enforcement of its policies regarding underage users and better protect the private data of teens on Facebook.  CU said it will continue to work with the FTC to help parents and children safety navigate the Internet.

Contact: David Butler or Kara Kelber, 202-462-6262, dbutler@consumer.org, kkelber@consumer.org