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Groups Ask Parents to Promote FTC Kids Online Privacy Proposals

Launch Petition Drive at Change.org 10/15/2012 11:36 AM Eastern

The Center for Digital Democracy and Commonsense Media have launched an online petition drive to get parents to push the Federal Trade Commission to stay the course on its proposed changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act enforcement regime.

They say the only way to compete with media lobbyists working to weaken the privacy laws is to enlist parents in the effort.

"The Federal Trade Commission has proposed rule changes that will update the law and keep parents in control even in this new digital era of social media networks, mobile apps, gaming sites and tracking that goes on while kids are web browsing," the petition says. "There is already mounting industry opposition to these rule changes which will provide parents with another tool to stay in control.  Parents must make their voices heard so that the FTC knows that we support these important rule changes that keep parents in charge."  

There were 353 signatures at presstime.

The Federal Trade Commission has recommended that ad networks be subject to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act when they are collecting personal information through a child-directed website. Proposed revisions in the definitions of "operator" and "website" directed to children will clarify their application to third parties, including ad networks and plugins that collect personal info through child-directed sites or services.

The definition of "website" would also be modified to: "Clarify that a plugin or ad network is covered by the Rule when it knows or has reason to know that it is collecting personal information through a child-directed website or online service."< /p>

The FTC put those changes out for comment in July and got an earful, including from cable and wireless operators saying there could be unintended consequences to the changes as proposed, including putting a crimp in TV Everywhere online delivery of kids' content.

In a joint filing, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and Motion Picture Association of America said the current rules already strike the right balance and that some of the new changes "would significantly extend the reach and the burdens of the COPPA regulatory regime" without a corresponding benefit and, in fact, with a corresponding adverse impact on the quality and viability of age-appropriate children's content.

September