The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this week proposed changes to current online protections for children that would further restrict the ability of websites to use and disclose their personal information.
“Kids must be able to play and learn online without being endlessly tracked by companies looking to hoard and monetize their personal data,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.
Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), websites and online services are already required to provide notice to and obtain consent from parents to collect, use or disclose information from children younger than 13 years, with limits on what data they can collect and how long they can store it.
The proposed changes would require additional parental consent to allow a child’s information to be disclosed to third-party advertisers and would reinforce existing prohibitions on conditioning participation in the collection of personal data.
It would also bar websites from using contact information and identifiers to send push notifications to children to encourage them to stay online, mandate stronger data security requirements for sites that collect a child’s data and limit data retention to only “as long as necessary to fulfill the specific purpose for which it was collected.”
“The proposed changes to COPPA are much-needed, especially in an era where online tools are essential for navigating daily life—and where firms are deploying increasingly sophisticated digital tools to surveil children,” Khan said.
“By requiring firms to better safeguard kids’ data, our proposal places affirmative obligations on service providers and prohibits them from outsourcing their responsibilities to parents,” she added.
Amid the rapid rise in popularity of social media, Washington has increasingly voiced concerns about children’s safety online, with the issue drawing a rare showing of bipartisan support.
One bill aimed at mitigating harm to minors online, the Kids Online Safety Act, advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year but has yet to head to the Senate floor for a vote.