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FTC updates COPPA, backs away from some app store rules

updated 02:47 pm EST, Wed December 19, 2012

Apps, websites to require consent before obtaining data

The US Federal Trade Commission has formally updated rules derived from the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, better known as COPPA, says the Wall Street Journal. The act was originally passed by Congress in 1998, but subsequent evolution of the Internet prompted the FTC to start reconsidering its enforcement in 2010. Influenced by feedback, proposed changes started emerging last year.

Under the newly adopted rules, apps and websites will have to get parental consent before collecting photos, videos, geolocation data, or tracking cookies and passing them along to other businesses. Unlike a draft set of rules proposed in August though, "plugins" -- such as Facebook's Like button, or Twitter's Tweet -- will be exempt from COPPA unless they have "actual knowledge" that the information they're collecting is sourced from apps or websites aimed at kids. The rules also specifically absolve app platforms, such as the App Store or Google Play, from having to monitor the legality of the apps they sell.

Apple and Google earlier protested that possibility, and Apple in fact scheduled five meetings with the FTC this fall. Facebook and Twitter complained about the risk of having to safeguard every instance of a plugin if it knew or had reason to know a kids' product was involved.

by MacNN Staff



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