Privacy Groups Push FTC to Stay COPPA Course

Privacy advocates have asked the Federal Trade Commission
not to delay the implementation of proposed changes to the Children's Online
Privacy Protection Act. That came after the Interactive Advertising Bureau
(IAB), the Digital Marketing Association, the National Association of
Broadcasters, the Motion Picture Association of America and others on Tuesday asked
the FTC to delay implementation from July 1 to Jan. 1, 2014.

In a letter to FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the Center for
Digital Democracy (CDD), Children Now, Common Sense Media, Consumers Union and
more than a dozen others said the commission should not push back the July
timetable for the changes.

Pointing to the new chairwoman's October 2012 speech, they
wrote: "You observed that the more that industry protests the proposed
changes to the COPPA rule to explicitly prohibit online behavioral advertising
to children, 'the more it raises questions about industry's claimed intention
not to target children.' In the present instance, similarly, the more industry
seeks to delay the implementation of rules, the more it raises questions about
industry's intent to comply."

IAB et al had argued in
its letter
that the delay was needed because the changes, particularly
making first parties liable for third-party data collection that benefits them,
"significantly impact the long-standing business model that these
companies have relied upon in planning the capabilities of their products and
services since COPPA's inception," and they needed more time to
"absorb the impact" of the changes and implement them. They also said
it would have helped if the FTC had released its promised FAQs on the changes,
which are not due out until next month.

CDD et al countered that the FTC has provided plenty of
guidance. "Both the IAB and the Alliance have long-Âestablished mechanisms
for educating their members, whether large or small. They have also
participated in conversations about the impending changes to COPPA for more
than a year."

The FTC is updating enforcement of the rules administering
the act to square them with the changes in digital marketing since the law was passed
in 1998, before Google, Twitter, Facebook and smartphones.

In December, the FTC unveiled thefinal version of the FTC's proposed changes and updates, which includes
bringing geolocation, cookies (plug-ins) and behavioral targeting explicitly
within the rules and adding website responsibility for third party collections.

The CDD and IAB letters came the day before Senator Jay
Rockefeller (D- W. Va.), who was in attendance and in support of the changes
when they were announced at a press conference last year, is holding a hearing on
Wednesday to learn why, at least in his view, thevoluntary "do not track" regime for adults and kids is not on track.

Ramirez has also signaled she does not think
industry has done enough to make an online do not track option easy and

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.