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Tougher Rules Proposed by FTC for Protecting Online Privacy of Children

On Wednesday, a revised rule was proposed to protect the online privacy of children including safeguards on mobile devices, websites, and third-party data brokers. Under the revised update of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, websites, data brokers, and mobile apps would have to seek parental permission before collecting the data of children.

The commission said, it “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 revised rule also specifies that family websites would be allowed to screen users and would need to provide protection to children under the age of thirteen. If the new rule comes into effect, then any website for children that adds social networking plug-ins like Facebook’s “like” feature or that works with a third-party ad network to generate revenue would be liable if the data collection occurs without parental consent.

The FTC said that ad networks and plug-ins would not be held primarily responsible, but if they find that they have a “reason to know” the particulars of children, then they also cannot ignore the presence of that information on their databases and would need to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

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Facebook said it was reviewing FTC’s proposal, as one study shows it has at least 7.5 million children as its members. Andrew Noyes, the company’s public policy communications manager said, “While Facebook’s policies prohibit children under the age of 13 from signing up for our service, we are committed to improving protections for all young people online and helping them benefit from new services and technologies.”

The proposal is open for comment until Sept 10.

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