Parents Want Better Laws for Children’s Online Privacy

Jan 21, 2013

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Online privacy is in the news a lot lately, and for good reason. It’s a touchy subject and lawmakers are frantically trying to keep up with rapidly changing technology that practically makes laws obsolete as soon as they are passed. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is engaging in a war with advertisers and app developers to get them to respect the rules already in place to protect children under COPPA rules (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). 

A new survey by Common Sense Media and the Center for Digital Democracy revealed that 93 percent of parents support the core principal of COPPA and the majority of parents want better laws for children’s online privacy. 

Specifically, 69 percent of parents did not think it was okay for advertisers to collect and use information about a child’s activities online, even if the child’s personal information was tallied anonymously. In addition, 84 percent of parents think it’s wrong for advertisers to collect information about a child’s location through their cell phones, and 91 percent think it’s not okay for a website to ask children for information about their friends. 

Luckily, the FTC seems to have listened to parents' concerns. The changes they made to COPPA last month address these concerns, and make it so advertisers and app makers are more directly responsible for making sure that they are not tracking or collecting information from children under 13.

James Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, said, “The results of this poll should be a wake-up call to the industry that parents understand what’s at stake for their kids in a digital world, and want the power to protect their children to remain in their hands.”

It’s great that parents realize that online privacy is important. But kids need more than just lip service. Parents, familiarize yourselves with the current laws regarding online privacy. 

Read through privacy policies before you download apps or sign up on websites. Make sure those apps or websites are not collecting personal information to be shared with other companies, or tracking your children online to send them ads. 

Consider using parental controls to make sure that they don’t go to dangerous sites. And talk to your children about these things. Help them understand the importance of online privacy and why they should care about not sharing personal information.

I work for Net Nanny. The opinions expressed here are my own.