Online Privacy For Kids Should Be Better Protected
December 7, 2012

Strong Support For Boosting Laws Protecting Online Privacy For Kids

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

An overwhelming majority of Americans support regulations requiring websites to gain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13, according to a new survey by the non-profit groups Center for Digital Democracy and Common Sense Media.

The survey, released on Thursday, comes ahead of a vote by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on whether to strengthen enforcement of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, a law that sets privacy rules that protect children online.

The results of the survey show overwhelming support for proposed changes in the regulations that would address data-collection practices such as behavioral profiling and mobile tracking.

The survey found that ninety percent of the 2,000 adult participants support the proposal's requirement that website and online service operators get permission from parents before collecting information from children under 13.

Eighty percent of the survey´s participants said they opposed allowing advertisers to collect and use information about a child´s online activities, even when marketers were unaware of the name and address of the child.

Currently, more than 30% of web tracking cookies target kids, the non-profit groups said .

Privacy advocates say COPPA, which was enacted in 1998, has failed to keep up with rapidly evolving technology and the widespread prevalence of data collection, data mining and location tracking on the Web and mobile devices.

"This survey clearly shows that parents not only want COPPA, but they also want the crucial updates the FTC is weighing," said James Steyer, chief executive and founder of Common Sense Media.

“These updates are key to ensuring our kids can reap the benefits of innovation without exploitation."

The proposed rule changes are being fiercely opposed by technology and media giants such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Disney and Viacom, who say the changes would be too burdensome and could thwart the ability to provide children with free online resources for education and entertainment.

But Steyer says the survey reveals strong public support for the new rules.

"The results of this poll should be a wake-up call to the industry that parents understand what's at stake for their kids in a digital world, and want the power to protect their children to remain in their hands."

"The industry argues that updates to COPPA will stifle innovation and cost jobs, when in fact, they should respect the role of parents and use it build consumer trust.”

The advocacy group is encouraging supporters of tighter online regulations to sign an online petition that will be sent to the FTC. At time of this writing, more than 2,000 people have signed on.

Additional information about the survey, including a summary of findings, full tables and an infographic can be found here.