Proposed U.S. Regulations Aim to Strengthen Online Privacy Protections for Children

The FTC proposed big changes to bolster the children’s privacy law. The rules under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 would prevent online tracking of kids by services like social media apps and toy retailers. It would shift the responsibility of online safety from parents to apps and other digital services while limiting how platforms can use and monetize kids’ data. Proposed changes include requiring online services to turn off targeted advertising by default for kids under 13 and limit the collection of student data by learning apps. The proposal aims to safeguard kids’ data from companies looking to monetize it.

COPPA is the main U.S. law protecting kids online. The law requires online services for kids, or those that have kids on their platform, to get parental permission before collecting personal details from kids under 13. The FTC’s proposal to strengthen kids’ privacy comes amid concerns about potential risks to young people online. There have been complaints against large tech companies for failing to protect kids’ privacy.

The proposal comes amidst growing concerns about the potential risks popular online services pose to young people’s mental health and physical safety. More than a dozen states have passed laws this year restricting minors’ access to social media networks and pornography sites. The FTC began reviewing the children’s privacy rule in 2019, getting over 175,000 comments from various groups. The changes proposed would limit how online operators can use user-tracking codes to maximize a child’s time on their platforms. The public has 60 days to comment on the changes.

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