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FTC strengthens protections for children's data

19 Dec 2012

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has updated the rules it uses to govern the way sites collect and manage personal information on children.

The FTC said that its amendments to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule would better clarify and define its privacy rules.

Under the new terms of the rule, online services and sites will face stricter restrictions on the handling of data from users under 13 years. The updated law will add images, video files and locational information to the list of covered data.

Additionally, vendors will no longer be able to exploit loopholes which allowed for the sale or sharing of collected information with third parties.

Other additions to the rule include new definitions and clauses in the rule which strengthen requirements for data collection and retention.

When the rules go into effect in July of 2013, the FTC will end a process it began in 2010 when the first review of the COPPA Rule was launched. The commission said that the update was necessary to keep the rule current with advancements in the industry. Commissioners approved the rule in a 3-1 vote with one member abstaining.

While the FTC's jurisdiction is limited to the US, the rule will likely have an international impact as vendors update their sites to gain compliance with the rule.

The FTC has been stepping up its efforts of late to protect the data of children online. Earlier this month the commission scorned mobile app developers for bad privacy practices and a lack of parental notification mechanisms.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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