McLean, VA (written by Scott Martin/USA Today) -- The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday proposed stricter online privacy guidelines aimed at making mobile devices safer for children to use and at barring third-party advertising networks and websites from collecting information on children without their parents' consent.
The proposal is the latest update to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which details the measures that websites must take to protect those under age 13.
Congress passed COPPA long before the era of mobile devices and popular mobile apps, such as Angry Birds. Now, the FTC is making sure newer technologies comply with the legislation's intent. The FTC proposal seeks to clarify that an ad network or plug-in, such as a Facebook's "Like" button, and smartphone app makers must have parental consent before data can be collected about children under age 13.
Currently under COPPA, third-party networks such as Facebook via its "Like" button could circumvent parental consent in data collection across children's sites. "There are plenty of plug-ins or advertising networks that place ads on many, many websites that may be affected by this," says Mary Engle, the FTC's associate director of ad practices.
The proposed rules make it clear that a person's location counts as personal information that app makers and others would not be able to collect without parental consent.
"While Facebook's policies prohibit children under the age of 13 from signing up for our service, we are committed to improving protections for all young people online and helping them benefit from new services and technologies," Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook has long been rumored to have plans to open its social network to those under 13. "Obviously, they could set up a system to allow parental permission," Engle says.
The FTC had proposed some changes last September, but expanded those Wednesday after receiving feedback. The FTC is accepting comment on the new version until Sept. 10. The rules could go into effect after that.
Contributing: Associated Press