The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strengthened its enforcement of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to give parents more control over the personal information websites and other online services are allowed to collect from their children under 13.
The amended COPPA regulations reflect changes in how children use and access the Internet, social networking and mobile devices since COPPA rules first went into effect in 2000.
Announcement of the tougher COPPA rules comes just days after the FTC reported that fewer than 20% of all mobile apps intended for use by children provided parents with information about their privacy and data collection practices or how the data collected would be used.
A few highlights of the COPPA amendments, which will take effect on July 1, 2013, include:
- The list of "personal information" that cannot be collected by websites and apps without parental consent is expanded to include geographic location (GPS location), photographs, and videos.
- A loophole in COPPA that allowed child-oriented apps and websites to permit third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent has been closed. Parental consent will be required before apps and websites can allow advertisers to collect personal information.
"The Commission takes seriously its mandate to protect children's online privacy in this ever-changing technological landscape," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "I am confident that the amendments to the COPPA Rule strike the right balance between protecting innovation that will provide rich and engaging content for children, and ensuring that parents are informed and involved in their children's online activities."