Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

COPPA 2.0: The New Battle over Privacy, Age Verification, Online Safety & Free Speech

Adam Thierer & I have just released a detailed examination (PDF) of brewing efforts to expand the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 to cover adolescents and potentially all social networking sites--an approach we call "COPPA 2.0."

As Adam explained on Larry Magid's CNET podcast, COPPA mandates certain online privacy protections for children under 13, most importantly that websites obtain the "verifiable consent" of a child's parent before collecting personal information about that child or giving that child access to interactive functionality that might allow the child to share their personal information with others. The law was intended primarily to "enhance parental involvement in a child's online activities" as a means of protecting the online privacy and safety of children.

Yet advocates of expanding COPPA--or "COPPA 2.0"--see COPPA's verifiable parental consent framework as a means for imposing broad regulatory mandates in the name of online child safety and concerns about social networking, cyber-harassment, etc. Two COPPA 2.0 bills are currently pending in New Jersey and Illinois. The accelerated review of COPPA to be conducted by the FTC next year (five years ahead of schedule) is likely to bring to Washington serious talk of expanding COPPA--even though Congress clearly rejected covering adolescents age 13-16 when COPPA was first proposed back in 1998.

We'll discuss some of the key points of our paper in a series of blog posts, but here are the top nine reasons for rejecting COPPA 2.0, in that such an approach would:

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posted by Berin Szoka @ 10:38 PM | Advertising & Marketing , Free Speech , Privacy