U.S. Government Steps in to Change Children’s Online Privacy Laws

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considering an update to the laws governing children’s privacy online, known as the COPPA Rule or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

The rule first went into effect in 2000 and was amended in 2013 to address changes in how children use mobile devices and social networking sites.

This week, the Washington Post reported the FTC had finalized a settlement with Google in its investigation into YouTube for violating federal data privacy laws for children. A settlement amount has not been disclosed.

Now the FTC believes it may be due for more revisions. The organization is seeking input and comments on possible updates, some of which are specifically focused on how to address sites that aren’t necessarily aimed at children, but have large numbers of child users.

The FTC’s announcement comes only weeks after U.S. consumer advocacy groups and Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent complaint letters to the FTC, urging the regulators to investigate YouTube for potential COPPA violations.

The advocacy groups allege that YouTube is hiding behind its terms of service, which claim YouTube is “not intended for children under 13,” a statement that’s clearly no longer true. Today, the platform is filled with videos designed for viewing by kids.

Google offers a YouTube Kids app aimed at preschooler to tween-aged children, but it’s optional. Kids can freely browse YouTube’s website and often interact with the service via the YouTube TV app, a platform where YouTube Kids has a limited presence.

Source: Washington Post, TechCrunch