WASHINGTON Aug 1 U.S. regulators proposed
tougher rules on Wednesday designed to protect children's
privacy online, toughening privacy protections on mobile devices
and ensuring that websites and third-party data brokers get
permission before they collect children's data.
The Federal Trade Commission, which enforces a 1998 law
called the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule, said the
changes were needed to take into account the widespread use of
mobile devices an d to make website owners responsible for any
infractions committed by third parties, such as data brokers.
"The commission did not foresee how easy and commonplace it
would become for child-directed sites and services to integrate
social networking and other personal information collection
features into the content offered to their users, without
maintaining ownership, control or access to the personal data,"
the commission said in its proposed rule.
The proposal, which is an amendment to a rule change put
forward nearly a year ago, also specifies that family websites,
which are websites aimed at children and adults, would be
allowed to screen users to determine their ages and only provide
COPPA protection to children under age 13.
Currently, all visitors to the websites must be treated as
if they are under age 13.
The FTC's proposal updates the definition of "personal
information" to require parental permission before identifiers
like IP addresses, that can be used to recognize a user over
time or across different sites or services, could be collected
while children surf the Internet.
Data-collecting tracking cookies placed on a computer were
added to the definition of "personal information" last September
since they can be used to identify the computer's user.
The proposal is open for comment until Sept. 10. The
commission will then come out with a final rule, perhaps by the
end of the year.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act mandates that
website and online service operators obtain verifiable consent
from parents before collecting, using or disclosing personal
information of children under 13.
The FTC implements COPPA through a rule that became effective
in 2000. Lawmakers and privacy advocates have argued that tech
companies are not doing enough to safeguard their customers'
(Reporting By Diane Bartz and Jasmin Melvin; Editing by Tim