* FTC proposes changes to rule on kids' online privacy
* Adds provision addressing location-tracking
* Comment period open until Nov. 28
By Jasmin Melvin
Sept 15 The Federal Trade Commission is
proposing new safeguards to heighten protection of children's
personal information online.
The proposal would change an existing rule that gives
parents a say over what information a website can collect about
their children. The amendments are aimed at keeping pace with
new technology and devices that give children Internet access.
"In this era of rapid technological change, kids are often
tech savvy but judgment poor," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said
in a statement on Thursday.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
mandates that website and online service operators obtain
verifiable consent from parents before collecting, using or
disclosing personal information of children under 13.
The FTC implements COPPA through a rule that became
effective in 2000.
Proposed changes to that rule would update the definition
of "personal information" to include geolocation information
often collected by mobile devices and applications.
Location tracking by smartphones, tablets and other mobile
devices offered by Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Google Inc (GOOG.O) and
other developers came under fire earlier in the year after it
was discovered that Apple's iPhones collected location data and
stored it for up to a year, even when location software was
supposedly turned off.
Lawmakers have raised concerns that tech companies may not
be doing enough to safeguard their customers' privacy in favor
of selling location data to potential advertisers.
The FTC's definition update would also require parental
permission before tracking cookies used for behavioral
advertising could be applied to children surfing the Internet.
The FTC also proposed making it easier to obtain verifiable
parental consent by adding new consent mechanisms, such as
video-conferencing and electronic scans of signed consent
"We want to ensure that the COPPA Rule is effective in
helping parents protect their children online, without
unnecessarily burdening online businesses," Leibowitz said.
The agency is seeking comment on the proposal until Nov.
Other changes include streamlining the notice website
operators must present to parents before collecting
information; ensuring that third parties to whom children's
information may be disclosed have adequate privacy and security
measures in place; and boosting oversight of safe harbor
programs that limit websites' liability.
(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin, editing by Matthew Lewis)