FTC Moves to Ban Companies from Monitoring Children

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(TheConservativeTimes.org) – For the first time in a decade, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unveiled significant modifications to the online privacy law for children in December. The FTC argued that companies’ evolving practices and capabilities necessitate stronger protection for young people to prevent tech giants from having “carte blanche” with children’s data, as one advocacy group put it.

Kids must be allowed to play and learn online without tracking by companies attempting to stockpile and monetize personal data, said FTC Chair Lina Khan. She announced the proposed revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998.

Companies that collect or utilize personal information from children via social media applications, video games, or advertising networks have been required by law to seek parental approval for over twenty years, which restricts their ability to follow children online. To comply with COPPA, platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have implemented measures to prevent users under 13 from creating accounts and collecting birth dates. However, authorities have accused numerous tech companies of not doing enough to safeguard children, and as a result, companies like Google, Amazon, and Epic Games have been fined millions of dollars for violations of COPPA.

The FTC website shows the revisions of the regulation in a notice that is expected to be posted to the Federal Register soon. They include:

—Targeted Ads Need Separate Opt-In. Companies cannot require third-party release of private data to provide services.

—Prohibition of collecting more personal data than is necessary for a child to play a game, prize offers, or other activity.

The current rule allows operators to collect persistent identifiers without parental consent as long as they use them for internal operations. Proposed changes require operators to provide an online notice outlining specific internal operations and prevent targeted advertising. The rule places restrictions on encouraging children to spend more time online.

Schools may only permit providers for instructional reasons, and the FTC wants to make it illegal for businesses to exploit kids’ personal information for marketing and to provide further protection.

The FTC proposes to restrict data retention to that which is required for defined reasons, and to require operators to provide a documented data retention plan for children’s information.

Design It for Us coalition co-chair Zamaan Qureshi said the new guidelines, subject to a 60-day public feedback period, would make kids safer online.

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