Privacy advocates have a lot to celebrate this week. The updated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, goes into effect—providing greater online privacy protections for children under the age of 13.
The new law still requires websites and apps to get parental consent for collecting personal information about children 13 and younger. What has changed is the definition of “personal information.”
Under COPPA, personal information now includes children’s:
• Voice recordings
• IP addresses
• GPS location data in mobile phones.
This means that parental permission is required for social network-sharing, advertising data-mining and third-party plug-ins like Facebook “likes” and Google “pluses.”
The bottom line: Our children shouldn’t experience behavior-based advertising that tracks their every move on the Internet, as long as we parents don’t provide consent. And their geo-location data—where they live, what places they visit, where they go to school—can’t be tracked without express consent as well.
This is a big win for parents who don’t want someone tracking their children’s every step and logging it in some hidden data center. COPPA essentially draws a line on when these data collection companies can start building online dossiers on these future consumers.
The updated COPPA is far from perfect, but it brings meaningful change regarding the regulation of children’s data and the impact that has on their online and mobile lives. Ideally these increased protections and consent requirements would apply to everyone regardless of age. It’s not likely that will happen. Too much money is involved. But it’s worth fighting for.
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