Friday, March 15, 2024

Drummond urges FTC to strengthen online privacy, safety protections for youth

Drummond urges FTC to strengthen online privacy, safety protections for youth

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 12, 2024) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond and a coalition of 39 other attorneys general are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update and strengthen the rules technology companies must follow under the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Drummond said the update is necessary because the rules governing online privacy protections for children under the age of 13 have not been revised in more than a decade. At the same time, the digital world has evolved rapidly — with smartphones, social networks and connected devices now a big part of daily life.

Congress enacted COPPA in 1998 to give parents more control over information collected online from their children. The legislation directed the FTC to establish regulations for operators of websites or online services regarding how they collect, use and share personal information of children under 13 years old.

“Our children are encountering too many instances of harm when using technology,” Drummond said. “It is imperative that the FTC strengthen and update its rules to ensure technology companies are not using children’s information in a nefarious way. With the continuous and rapid development of technology, we must be vigilant in protecting the lives of innocent children.”

The FTC is proposing changes to the COPPA Rule that would place new restrictions on the use and disclosure of children’s personal information and further limit the ability of companies to condition access to services on monetizing children’s data. The proposal aims to shift the burden from parents to providers to ensure that digital services are safe and secure for children.

In a letter last week to the FTC, the attorneys general urged the commission to expand the definition of “personal information” to include biometric identifiers such as fingerprints, retina and iris patterns, and information derived from voice, gait and facial data. Avatars generated from a child’s image and likeness would also be considered personal information.

By statute, both the FTC and state attorneys general are empowered to enforce COPPA. Since the rule became effective, state attorneys general, on their own and in partnership with the FTC, have pursued multiple actions for COPPA Rule violations.

Late last year, state attorneys general sued Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for violations of state consumer protection laws and COPPA. The complaint alleges Meta knowingly designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and its other social media platforms that purposefully addict children and teens. All the while, Meta falsely assured the public that these features are safe and suitable for young users. The case is ongoing. 

In addition to Oklahoma, states joining the letter are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Read the letter here.


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