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FTC Agrees To Expand Online Privacy Regulations For Kids’ Tech

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 will include rules for how apps and social networks gather and use personal data from young users.

What’s the Latest Development?

Starting July 1, manufacturers of apps and other technologies targeting children will have to abide by expanded rules included in the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa), according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These include a redefinition of personal data to include photos and geographic locations, among others, and a requirement from companies to obtain parental permission before tracking and sharing children’s online activities. However, app stores such as iTunes are explicitly exempted from being held responsible for privacy violations made by developers of individual products.

What’s the Big Idea?

Coppa was first enacted in 1998, several years before the explosion of smartphones and social media. The exemptions made for large companies like Apple and Google disappointed smaller developers, who said that the new rules might hinder growth, but FTC chairman Jon Liebowitz believes the changes “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.” Other legislators, such as Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va), see the changes as just one step towards additional laws that give all Americans more control over use of their personal data online.

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