Library DrawingThe CONNector

APRIL 2000Volume 2 Number 2

Internet Privacy Protection for Children

Joanne Turschman, Library Specialist

On October 20, 1999, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued the final rule implementing the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA).The rule, 16 CFR Part 312, was enacted following an FTC survey of 212 commercial Web sites for children. The survey found that 89 percent of those sites collected personal information from children, only 24 percent posted privacy policies, and only 1 percent required parental consent to the collection or disclosure of children's information.

The new rule applies to commercial Web sites and online services that collect information from children under 13. It requires them to post a detailed privacy notice, explaining how such information is used, and whether the information is disclosed to third parties. The site cannot condition a child's participation in an activity based on the amount of information the child discloses. The notice must state that a parent can review and have deleted the child's personal information, and refuse to permit further collection or use of the information.

Moreover, sites will have to obtain "verifiable parental consent" before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children. Web sites can adopt a "sliding scale" which will allow them to vary their consent methods based on the intended use of the information. The rule includes exceptions to the requirement. For example, no consent is required to respond to a one time request from a child for "homework help." The rule will become effective on April 21, 2000, allowing time for operators to comply with the requirements.

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