Privacy, Please

[UPDATED 12/19/12]: At a press conference on Wednesday, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the agency will amend the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

The Federal Trade Commission hasn’t updated its children’s online privacy rules since 2000, back when the World Wide Web was a mere young'un.

Much has changed since then, and a range of data-collection and marketing companies now track all Internet users — including children.

Now the FTC is poised to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act — and to address the range of tools such companies use. Free Press joined a group of child advocacy, health, consumer and privacy organizations in sending a letter to the FTC supporting these changes. The Center for Digital Democracy organized this varied coalition, which also includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumers Union, the Media Literacy Project and the National Black Church Initiative.

In the letter to the FTC, the signers note the need for immediate action. “These rule changes are not only essential,” the letter reads, “but also urgent, addressing a variety of techniques that are swiftly becoming commonplace, including ‘cookies’ and other ‘persistent identifiers’ for following a child online, mobile and geo-location tracking, facial recognition software, and behavioral advertising.”

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said he hopes his agency will reach a decision on the proposed changes by year’s end.

Original photo by Flickr user Baddog

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