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    FTC Seeks Comment on Children’s Online Privacy Protections, Will Hold Roundtable

    The Federal Trade Commission announced that it will hold a roundtable on children’s online privacy protections on June 2, 2010, in Washington, D.C. The commission is requesting comments on children’s privacy issues before the roundtable.

    The FTC’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule became effective on April 21, 2000. COPPA imposes requirements on operators of Web sites or online services that are aimed at children under 13 years of age, or that knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. Among other things, the Rule requires that online operators notify parents and get their permission before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children. It also requires that the operators keep the information they collect from children secure, and prohibits them from requiring children to turn over any more personal information than is reasonably necessary to participate in activities on their Web sites.

    In 2005, the FTC initiated a congressionally required review of the Rule, and after considering extensive public comment decided to retain it without change. However, the Commission believes that changes to the online environment over the past five years, including children’s increasing use of mobile technology to access the Internet, warrant reexamining the Rule.

    Among the questions that the FTC seeks answers to:

    • What implications for COPPA enforcement are raised by mobile communications, interactive television, interactive gaming, or other similar interactive media.
    • For input on the use of automated systems – those that filter out any personally identifiable information prior to posting – to review children’s Web submissions.
    • Whether operators have the ability to contact specific individuals using information collected from children online, such as persistent IP addresses, mobile geolocation data, or information collected in connection with behavioral advertising, and whether the Rule’s definition of “personal information” should be expanded accordingly.
    • Whether there are additional technological methods to obtain verifiable parental consent that should be added to the COPPA Rule, and whether any of the methods currently included should be removed.
    • Whether parents are exercising their right under the Rule to review or delete personal information collected from their children, and what challenges operators face in authenticating parents.
    • Whether the Rule’s process for FTC approval of self-regulatory guidelines – known as safe harbor programs – has enhanced compliance, and whether the criteria for FTC approval and oversight of the guidelines should be modified in any way.

    The deadline for submission of comments is June 30, 2010. Comments can be submitted via or Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex E), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

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