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Federal Trade Commission All Set to Bring In New Children Privacy Rules

Children’s privacy has been in the focus for some time now and FTC was under a lot of pressure to implement new rules that would favor the online safety of children. There were a lot of discussions in this regard and FTC were eager to move ahead. However, major internet companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc. were not ready to make changes to the privacy policy. This led to a lot of friction and tension and privacy experts were starting to get quite vocal about how the FTC is indirectly being controlled by these private companies. Finally, FTC seems to have taken a stand. The organization is now all set to implement a new rule set that will ensure a higher degree of privacy protection for children.

Privacy Policy

Children Privacy

 

Finer Details Regarding the Update in Privacy Policy

The update in policy that will be released during the third week of December would be to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, more commonly known as COPPA. The current law that is in force states that companies (both online and offline) cannot collect information that is related to children below the age of 13 years. However, this law had quite a few loopholes that advertising companies, analytics companies and app developers took full advantage of.

The update will not change any rules but make things more clear and specific. The update will specify that the law applies not only to websites but also mobile and web applications, games, online plug-ins and even advertising networks. Also, the definition for the term ‘personal information’ is being updated in the law. Now, it will cover everything from pictures, videos, geographic and location services based information, and even indirect social media information.

Is It Goodbye Tracking Cookies?

It might be a little farfetched to consider that this new rule update might signify the end of tracking cookies. But the update clearly mentions that tracking cookies should not be used on children’s computers. While cookies are a very popular way of tracking user related information and aid in targeting, companies should exercise extreme caution while using them from now on. Failing to do so will imply that they went against the law and the defaulters would be liable for prosecution.

Shift from ‘Actual Knowledge’ to ‘Reason to Know’ Basis

Also, the update will clearly specify that in case websites clearly know that the user is under 13 years, the cookies should be automatically disabled. This rule applies to all the sites, including ones which require children to open an account to use the full range of services. This shift from ‘actual knowledge’ that under 13 users are logged in to ‘reason to know’ if under 13 users are logged in clearly highlights how serious the FTC is about the new rule update.

What is The Effect of This Shift in Perspective?

It was mentioned above that if sites had a ‘reason to know’ if the user was an under 13, they should not track him/her. This significance is that you don’t have to buy specific devices for your children and register them to ensure that they are not being tracked. Even if you are using your work laptop most of the times and your kid/kids use it to access children’s sites after you go home, it is the responsibility of the site operator to ensure that the site doesn’t track your kid/kids. Effectively, you don’t have to take steps to ensure that you stop cookies/tracking online. There might also be a reduction in the level of user experience on sites but privacy trumps user experience at any given point of time.

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