FTC poised to remove parent consent, weaken children’s privacy law. COPPA
The Federal Trade Commission is considering several changes to this law that protects children’s online information. The FTC is accepting comments from the public, deadline December 9, 2019. Let them hear from you; tell the FTC: Do NOT Weaken COPPA. Do NOT Give Edtech a Consent Exception. See Sample letters here, here, here, and here.
Submit comments here : https://beta.regulations.gov/document/FTC-2019-0054-0001
With the ever expanding use of computers, online curriculum, apps, videos, social media in the classroom, kids deserve to be protected at school.
- Technology in education (edtech) is worth billions, so is your child’s data. A child’s every click, every word, every page visit, every photo, their location, device info, microphone, search history, their emotions, their behaviors, brainwaves, bathroom habits, and more can be secretly tracked, shared, analyzed, and sold.
- The FBI even issued a warning about edtech.
- COPPA is a federal law whose mission is to put parents in control over what information is collected from their young child online, but that could change. The FTC is about to weaken this law that protects children.
The FTC is considering several changes, including removing parent consent for edtech.
See here (Section E. Question 23 covers the edtech consent exception) Exceptions to Verifiable Parental Consent:
“Should the Commission consider a specific exception to parental consent for the use of education technology used in the schools? Should this exception have similar requirements to the “school official exception” found in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)…?”
Tell them no.
- Edtech should never usurp parental control over children’s information.
- BigTech has shown us time and time again, they cannot be trusted to police themselves.
- Advertising has no place in the classroom.
- Edtech consent exception would open the door to invasive tracking and even more advertising.
- Parents are concerned about addiction and health effects of screen time, parents want LESS screen time, not more. New research shows link to screen time and decreased brain structure and developmental milestones. Parents should have a say about tech, screen use in school.
- Senators asked important questions of edtech & databroker organizations-we expect answers.
- Why isn’t the FTC investigating edtech?
- FTC has the power to audit edtech companies & their third parties.
Tell the FTC to strengthen COPPA; do not exempt edtech from parent consent.
U.S. Senators, Privacy Advocates, Attorneys General, Education Advocates, The New York Times say:
- 25 State Attorneys Generals “have grave concerns that the change under consideration in the Request for Public Comment would expose children to the type of data collection the Rule is intended to prevent.“
- US Senators say FTC should “Enhance protections for kids… not the data collectors”
- The New York Times says “Don’t weaken privacy protections for children”
- The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy says “Strengthen COPPA rather than weaken ”
- Truth in American Education says “Strengthen COPPA, do not usurp parental rights”
- Campaign for Commercial-free Childhood “Kids need more privacy protections, not less”
- Parents Across America “Protect children from misuse & theft of their personal data”
- Add your name. Be a voice for kids!
Contact your Congressperson https://www.contactingcongress.org/
Submit a comment to FTC by Dec 9 https://beta.regulations.gov/document/FTC-2019-0054-0001
COPPA is the only federal law that protects children’s privacy online.
…If you are not familiar with COPPA, this November 3, 1999 notice in The Federal Register summarizes the intent and purpose of COPPA when it was passed. Below are a few excerpts
“Congress enacted the COPPA to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in connection with the collection, use, or disclosure of personally identifiable information from and about children on the Internet.” [emphasis added]
“The Rule implements the requirements of the COPPA by requiring operators of websites or online services directed to children and operators of websites or online services who have actual knowledge that the person from whom they seek information is a child
(1) to post prominent links on their websites to a notice of how they collect, use, and/or disclose personal information from children;
(2) with certain exceptions, to notify parents that they wish to collect information from their children and obtain parental consent prior to collecting, using, and/or disclosing such information;
(3) not to condition a child’s participation in online activities on the provision of more personal information than is reasonably necessary to participate in the activity;
(4) to allow parents the opportunity to review and/or have their children’s information deleted from the operator’s database and to prohibit further collection from the child; and
(5) to establish procedures to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of personal information they collect from children. As directed by the COPPA, the Rule also provides a safe harbor for operators following Commission-approved self-regulatory guidelines.” https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-1999-11-03/pdf/99-27740.pdf
...And if removing parent consent feels familiar: yes, this already happened to FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Don’t let it happen again.
FERPA was weakened in 2008 and 2011, and removed parent consent before collecting and sharing student information with researchers, companies, contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other parties. Gutting FERPA by removing parent consent usurped parental rights; we should absolutely not make that same mistake by removing parent consent in COPPA.
The FTC is accepting public comment on these proposed changes to COPPA; the deadline to comment is Dec 9, 2019.