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Update To Internet Child-Protection Law Misses The Mark, Says Critic

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(File photo by Sean Gallup/ Getty Images)

(File photo by Sean Gallup/ Getty Images)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There was no Facebook, no Twitter.  Flip phones were all the rage.

That was in 2000, when the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was last updated.

Now, the government is out with new regulations designed to keep kids safe from those who wish to track them online.

Since the law’s last refresh, there have been seismic changes on the web including “behavioral advertising, where companies track the sites you visit and use that to target advertising to you,” notes David Jacobs, consumer protection counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

And with smartphones and apps, how they enable sharing and can pinpoint your location.

Jacobs says that when it comes to children under the age of 13, the Federal Trade Commission is trying to put more power into parents’ hands.

“If a company collects geolocation information, pictures, video, or uses a persistent identifier like a cookie that’s placed on a computer, they have to get consent of the parent before they collect and use that information,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

And before crafty kids think they can just lie about their birthdays, the FTC says providers can ask for signed parental consent forms or video conferencing with Mom or Dad before son or daughter can click away.

However, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calls the COPPA update “another example of how federal child privacy laws harm children more than help them.”

In a statement, ITIF senior analyst Daniel Castro notes how children are able to bypass current age verification tools to use Facebook, Skype, and other services that are supposed to be used only by those who  are 13 and older.

“The new rule changes do not address the real problems with current privacy restrictions, which are woven into the open nature of the Internet and the always-changing technology environment,” Castro says in the statement. “The FTC should have focused on rules to better address these issues and not simply restrict legitimate business practices used by companies in the Internet marketplace.”

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