The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed substantial changes to fortify children’s online privacy through amendments to the 1998 law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Aimed at restricting online tracking of children under the age of 13, these changes transfer safety responsibility from parents to digital services while curbing data exploitation by platforms.
The proposed enhancements include default disabling of targeted ads for kids under 13, preventing platforms from using personal details to encourage prolonged usage or inundating children with push notifications, strengthening security for kids’ data, and limiting personal data retention by online services.
Additionally, the updates seek to restrict student data collection by educational tech providers, allowing data collection only for educational – not commercial – purposes with school consent.
COPPA requires parental consent for collecting personal data from children under 13, enforced by platforms like Instagram and TikTok through age-gating measures.
Since its enactment, COPPA has seen several companies charged for breaking the law with practices targeting underage users.
These include a $20 million June 2023 finding against Microsoft to settle charges that it violated COPPA by collecting personal information from children who signed up for its Xbox gaming system without parental consent.
These efforts address rising concerns about mental health risks posed by inappropriate online content and distractions caused by social media platforms in schools, prompting heightened regulations and state laws restricting minors’ online access.
Lina M. Khan, the chairperson of the FTC said in a statement, “By requiring firms to better safeguard kids’ data, our proposal places affirmative obligations on service providers and prohibits them from outsourcing their responsibilities to parents.”