FTC updates online child privacy rules, gives app sellers a pass

The updated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule Act requires companies to obtain parental consent before collecting data from children

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday updated its child online privacy rules to reflect the burgeoning growth of social networking and smartphone apps. But, in a change from an earlier proposal, app stores run by companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. will not be liable for privacy violations resulting from third-party apps or plug-ins, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

The FTC launched a review of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in 2010, amid concerns that the 1998 law had not kept pace with new technologies. This summer, the FTC proposed a series of amendments to COPPA, including new measures that would hold companies responsible for selling third-party apps that collect children’s personal data if the company “knows or has reason to know” that such violations are occurring. According to a recent FTC report, many kids’ mobile apps gather data from users and sent it to the app developer, advertisers or analytics companies.

Alanna Byrne

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