The Federal Trade Commission is proposing new rules to better protect kids online, closing loopholes that still permit companies to gather personal information about kids despite a 1998 law that was supposed to prevent it. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The rules could affect popular features such as Facebook Inc.’s ”Like” button, as well as new social networks for playing games on smartphones. Websites aimed at children already have to get parental consent before gathering information—such as name and email address—from users under 13 years old. But the original law, known as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, hasn’t adapted to advances in Web technology and marketing. Those advances have allowed so-called third parties to gather data without parents’ knowing. For example, some iPhone games popular with kids, include the option to join social networks that collect personal data from users without asking for a parent’s permission. An investigation by The Wall Street Journal in 2010 found that popular children’s websites installed more data-gathering technology on computers than websites aimed at adults.
The Commission is asking for comments and is certain to get many from companies who want to continue to have access to this lucrative data from children. I hope they get some from parents, too.