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FTC Collects Comments on Privacy Framework, COPPA

The Federal Trade Commission continued to get an earful
Friday on the issue of protecting consumer privacy.

That came in comments on the FTC's "privacy by
design" framework outlined in a staff draft report, "Protecting
Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses
and Policymakers."

A coalition of consumer advocates including the Center for
Digital Democracy, Children Now and the Consumer Federation of America are
pushing for a do-not-track regime for teens and no behavioral targeting of

"Teens are using new media technologies for key social
interactions and to explore their identities. This increased use of digital
media subjects them to wholesale data collection and profiling of even their
most intimate interactions with friends, family, and schools," the groups

The FTC is currently considering both the privacy framework,
and what changes it would or should make in implementing the Children's Online
Privacy Protection Act.

The act applies those protections to children under 13, but
the groups argue that they should apply to teens 13-17 as well. The FTC can
make some changes to implementation of the act on its own, but FTC Chairman
Jon Leibowitz says it would take Congress to raise the effective age in
the legislation.

Asked by B&C
whether the report would advise upping the age to 17, Leibowitz said he
did not want to prejudge the COPPA review. "But you want to have a
benchmark standard for protecting privacy," he said, "and when
it comes to particularly vulnerable populations or sensitive information--so
health information and financial information--it may call for greater privacy

Comments were due Friday on the draft report, and the bottom
line for those groups was: "We urge that the privacy framework explicitly
recognize adolescents as sensitive users and afford them special protections."

The FTC has gotten over 500 comments on the privacy issue,
according to Leibowitz. 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.