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The Federal Trade Commission is proposing a set of new online privacy rules focused specifically on children’s interaction with web sites. The new rules—which focus on kids under the age of 13—are amendments to the existing Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that, according to the FTC [PDF], are being made in response “to changes in online technology, including in the mobile marketplace.” According to a report in Information Week, the FTC is “seek[ing] to update rules for how businesses that collect children’s information notify others, obtain parental consent, as well as keep collected data secure and confidential” and “expand COPPA to cover not just websites, but also online services such as mobile applications and even some types of text messaging services.” COPPA, which is more than a decade old, was written and passed into law well before the current explosion in online social media and mobile-computing usage—which is to say, the rules pre-date the existence and/or widespread use of Facebook, YouTube, FarmVille, and the iPhone. As Cecilia Kang notes in her Washington Post Post Tech blog, “Online privacy has been a growing concern for younger Web and mobile users, who are quick to hand over personal information to get access to a premium level or share a funny picture with friends online without necessarily considering all the consequences of their actions.” The proposed changes are open for public comment through November 28, but already there are some questions being raised about the efficacy of the new rules. In The Atlantic Wire, Rebecca Greenfield’s article “Objections to the Updates to the Internet Child Privacy Protection Laws” lays out issues for advertisers, businesses, and even parents. She cites The Center for Democracy and Technology opinion that one of the rules’ mandates for “scans of ‘government-issued identification’ from parents” is an approach “that ‘raises privacy concerns for parents.’ “ Balancing privacy, safety, and access is an ongoing issue for web users of all ages, but the FTC sees a particular challenge in offering the right protections for children who are growing up in a digital age. In a statement from the agency on the new rules, chairman Jon Leibowitz says, “In this era of rapid technological change, kids are often tech savvy but judgment poor. We want to ensure that the COPPA Rule is effective in helping parents protect their children online, without unnecessarily burdening online businesses”

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