Parents Vote for Stronger Regulations to Protect Children Online

December 7, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

There are a lot of laws governing the protection of children online, and we have many software packages that enable parents to monitor their children’s activity online. Moreover, the FTC is working to update the regulations for children’s protection online.

But whatever measures we have or take are never too much, and there is a constant demand for more security. Two non-profit advocacy groups have released survey findings that show a lot of support for many of the proposed changes.

Many of these changes have been opposed by companies like Viacom, Disney, Facebook, Google and Twitter. Since the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) came into effect in 1998, the Act doesn’t cover some of the tools that are in use now.

More than 90 percent of the respondents agree on things like asking for parental permission before tracking cookies and installing plugins or the like on a computer used by children. Also Advertisers shouldn’t be allowed to collect information regarding the child’s mobile phone location as well as information about their friends.

But having anti-tracking provisions might make things difficult for media and other companies because they say it would prove tough to provide online entertainment and research or educational tools for children. The fact pointed out here is that sites for children use nearly 30 percent more tracking tools when compared to other sites.

About 80 percent of adults do not want advertisers to collect and use information from a child regarding their online activities, even if they publish those under anonymity. As much as 90 percent of people have raised hands for keeping COPPA’s existing regulation asking sites to get parental permission before they collect personal information.

Kathryn C. Montgomery, Ph.D, professor of communication at American University and one of the leaders of the campaign to pass COPPA during the 1990s, remarked that there is strong support from the public to address the widespread malpractices against children online. “We must ensure that the COPPA rules are updated effectively so that the generation of young people growing up online today will be treated fairly in the growing digital marketplace,” she said.

According to James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, companies should respect the updates of COPPA and build consumer trust. He says that the FTC’s recommended updates to COPPA will help parents to have better information and tools thus allowing them to monitor their children’s safety better.

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