FTC Seeks Input on Need to Update COPPA

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking comment on 2013 updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA Rule) and whether more changes are needed.

The FTC says it usually reviews rules every 10 years but technological changes are driving the earlier review to make sure children are being protected.

COPPA's author, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is one of those arguing for the need to update its protections, including extending them to older children and youth.

The 2013 amendments included "an expanded definition of children’s personal information, including persistent identifiers such as cookies that track a child’s activity online, as well as geolocation information, photos, videos, and audio recordings."

Related: Sen. Markey Looks to Update COPPA

The FTC says it wants input on a range of COPPA Rule-related issues, and will also hold a public workshop Oct. 7.

"We’re committed to strong COPPA enforcement, as well as industry outreach and a COPPA business hotline to foster a high level of COPPA compliance," said FTC chairman Joe Simons. "But we also need to regularly revisit and, if warranted, update the Rule.”

Questions that the FTC wants particularly answered include:

1. "Has the Rule affected the availability of websites or online services directed to children?

2. "Does the Rule correctly articulate the factors to consider in determining whether a website or online service is directed to children, or should additional factors be considered? For example, should the Rule be amended to better address websites and online services that may not include traditionally child-oriented activities, but have large numbers of child users?

3. "What are the implications for COPPA enforcement raised by technologies such as interactive television, interactive gaming, or other similar interactive media?

4. "Should the Commission consider a specific exception to parental consent for the use of education technology in schools?

5. "Should the Commission modify the Rule to encourage general audience platforms to identify and police child-directed content uploaded by third parties?"

John Eggerton

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.