The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has approved rules to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), legislation originally adopted in 1998. The changes are meant to update the law passed in the early days of the internet to be more in line with current online habits, including use of Facebook and Twitter.
MSNBC reports “Websites and phone apps that collect photos or geo-location data from children must now obtain express permission from parents, putting that data in the same category as kids’ email or home addresses. The new rules also make firms more responsible for data collection by third parties, a loophole that had been exploited by marketers in the past.” The rules took effect Monday, July 1, and forbid firms from using cookies and other digital identifiers to give children ads based on internet behavior. The big takeaway here is data collection: the FTC says no collecting when it comes to kids.
It’s about time more measures were taken to protect our precious kids online, and the FTC seems to be taking the concerns of parents to heart with these changes. The onus, however, still remains on us, the parents, to be vigilant over what our kids are doing online. Facebook doesn’t allow kids to join if they are under the age of 13, yet children have found ways around that. And that’s just one example of kids getting “away with it” online.
Here are some tips you can follow to protect your child:
• Watch for fake email addresses your child might use to provide themselves with “parental” permission.
• Check out tools such as openDNS to protect your child against malicious phishing scams.
• Use filtering services such as PlayCorner TV to make sure the content your child is viewing is age appropriate.
• Set time limits for computer activity.
• Many phone companies allow parents certain controls and restrictions over their children’s mobile devices; educate yourself on those restrictions.
• Communicate with your child about what is and is not appropriate; the power of conversation is amazing.
Of course, no amount of advice or updates to decades-old legislation is as good as your parental discretion. As for us, well we don’t collect data — that’s not our style. The only people who need to know that stuff start with a “pa” and end with a “rents.” Get it, parents?