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Groups Seek Expanded Coverage of Child Online Protections

The Center for Digital Democracy and
17 other organizations have asked the Federal Trade Commission to expand its
enforcement of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act to include
interactive TV, online gaming and more to reflect the explosion of digital
media use among children and teens since the FTC's rules implementing the bill
went into effect a decade ago.

That came in comments filed
Wednesday, the deadline for input to the FTC on whether and how it should change
its enforcement of the law. The commission periodically reviews the law.

Additionally, the groups want to
change the definition of "personal information" collection to include
cookies, IP addresses, geo-location and even anonymous age, zip code and gender
information which they say can now be used to identify Web surfers.

They also want the commission to
develop separate privacy protections for children older than 13.

Among their recommendations are for
the FTC to 1) apply to COPPA criteria it used for a 2008 report to Congress on food marketing to
children--for example, defining a site directed at children as one with 20% or more
traffic from ages 2-12; require "major" websites, ad net, social
networks and others to periodically report to the FTC about  data
collection practices; investigate "safe harbor" programs and make
operators reapply; and investigate whether blanket parental permissions are
being used to engage in "ongoing data collection and personalized

"Interactive TV, mobile
targeting and online games are major new threats to children," said Center
for Digital Democracy Executive Director
Jeff Chester. "Congress mandated the FTC to protect children's privacy--and
it needs to ensure ITV and other new digital media comply with COPPA.  The
FTC should also help the FCC better tackle how ITV raises privacy concerns for
both children, teens and adults."

Others signing on to the comments
include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Federation of America, and
Consumers Union.

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.