A survey released on Thursday found that most parents want more say in how much information websites and other online providers collect from children, bolstering calls for policymakers to toughen children’s privacy rules.
The new poll, sponsored by the public-interest groups Common Sense Media and the Center for Digital Democracy, found that 90 percent of those surveyed said they favor the current restrictions included in a law known as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires online providers to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under 13. According to the survey, which polled 2,002 adults in mid-November, most do not favor applying some of the technologies for collecting data online from adults to children.
The Federal Trade Commission is set to release changes, possibly before the end of the year, to its rules implementing COPPA to help the law keep pace with developments in technology and the new ways children access online content since the law was passed in 1998. The proposed changes include amending the rules to include content available on mobile devices such as smartphones, changing the definition of personal information covered by COPPA to include persistent identifiers such as Internet protocol numbers, and expanding who is covered by the law. Both Common Sense Media and the Center for Digital Democracy favor tougher COPPA rules.
The survey found that most adults appear to favor restrictions on what data can be collected from children: 91 percent do not think advertisers should be able to collect data about the location of children from their mobile phones, while the same percentage of adults -- and 94 percent of parents -- said that advertisers should get parental consent before placing tracking software on a child’s computer. The poll also found that 80 percent of adults did not favor allowing advertisers to collect and use even anonymized data about a child’s online activities.
"It is clear from these findings that the public supports strong action by the FTC to address the disturbing and widespread practices that threaten the privacy and safety of our nation's children," Kathryn C. Montgomery, a professor of communication at American University who helped push for passage of COPPA in 1998.