WASHINGTON (September 24, 2012) – In response to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request for comment on proposed changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”), the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) filed comments calling on the FTC to rethink its failed strategy on protecting the privacy and safety of children online.
In this filing ITIF notes that the current COPPA regulations are costly, unnecessary, and trivial to circumvent. Moreover, the rules propagated by the FTC over the past decade have led to anemic growth in the quality of websites directed at children, especially in educational websites for primary school students. ITIF Senior Analyst Daniel Castro said, “From an innovation perspective, the past decade has been a disappointment as the Internet has failed to live up to its potential in bringing forth a new era of compelling and educational child-friendly websites. It has become increasingly clear that the federal child privacy laws harm children more than help them.”
In this filing, ITIF is cautioning that the FTC’s new regulations under COPPA which would limit targeting advertising will lead us further down this fruitless path. As ITIF Senior Analyst Daniel Castro said, “By creating rules to restrict targeted advertising online for children’s websites, the FTC is going to further cut off revenue and increase costs for children’s websites, particularly educational websites.” Castro continued, “Targeted advertising is better for consumers, regardless of their age, because they are less likely to see ads that don’t interest them. With this proposed rule, the FTC is basically telling parents, ‘We don’t think your kids are special.’ Instead of recognizing that children, like adults, are not all the same and have a diverse set of interests, the FTC is propagating rules that discourage innovation and promote a monoculture online.”
ITIF concludes its filing by noting that the FTC should drop its current efforts to restrict targeted advertising for websites used by children and go back to the drawing board to reassess the impact that the COPPA rules are having on innovation and how a fundamentally revised COPPA could enabled the innovation so badly needed in this space.