Feeds

FTC: Thumbs up for America's online child protection laws

COPPA bracelet

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

America's laws protecting children's privacy online are working just fine, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But just to make sure, it will slap violators with bigger fines.

Signed into law in 2000, The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has seen the FTC bring just 12 companies to task over how they compile and use data collected from children aged 13 and under.

But in a progress report released today, the FTC said COPPA was "effective in helping to protect the privacy and safety of young children online".

More than half of the $1.8m in COPPA fines levied to date comes from September's settlement with the social network Xanga, which had collected and disclosed personal data from children without parental consent. The FTC offers websites "safe harbor" from prosecution if they voluntarily adopt COPPA's rules.

The FTC stresses the need for sites pitched at a general audience to redouble age verification efforts, as they can fall foul of COPPA if they have knowledge that children's data may be being collected, used or disclosed to other parties. Last month, for example, MySpace answered complaints over the ease with which pedophiles and other sexual predators roamed the site, by promising to let parents monitor their children's activities. But such a move is not enough to absolve it of COPPA responsibilities.

Some fringe critics say COPPA stomps children's Constitutional rights, but this has never been tested in the courts. According to the FTC, there is no evidence the Act has reduced diversity of or access to websites for children.

The FTC began its review in 2005 with a call for evidence from industry, interest groups and the public.

In a joint submission, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Consumer Federation of America, and others urged the FTC to clarify its rules on what constitutes a website "directed at children" under the terms of the Act.

The legal eagles at Redmond find COPPA something of a minefield too: in its submission Microsoft also pushed for clarification. The FTC rejects this call in its recommendations to Congress.

By contrast, The Direct Marketing Association and Nickelodeon children's said COPPA is clear enough as it stands. You can find the submissions here.

Confusingly, COPPA's near-namesake the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which related to internet pornography, was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2004. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.