On the heels of the rather brutal Federal Trade Commission review of children’s apps and their privacy safeguards (or lack thereof), the US federal government has passed legislation that halts a significant amount of the information gathering that goes on without parental permission in many kid-marketed apps.
The legislation expands on an already existing list of personal information that is unlawful to collect from children under the age of 13 without their parent’s permission. The list now includes important and sensitive information like location, pictures, and videos ( I know every parent, like myself, is wondering why this wasn’t protected before!?). The new law also stops child-marketed apps and websites from tracking kid’s activities on the internet or passing that information on to third party companies without parental consent. The new law even goes so far as to hold third-parties liable for any information collected from kid-oriented sites.
Some privacy advocates and activists site that this change of law is only the beginning of the battle for online privacy. They continue by saying that adults should demand this same kind of protection for themselves and not just their children.
The tech industry, who lobbied against the legislation, feels differently, however. They warn the public that too much regulation of data will lead to the stifling of innovation, not to mention the increased cost for consumers. They also insist that too much regulation could put a strain on some websites and app developers and could even drive them out of business.
However, with the FTC finding that over 60% of children’s apps collecting and transmitting data without permission, legislators feel it is a risk they are willing to take. With the FTC’s previous report citing that a detailed profile could be built about an individual child based on their behavior online and within apps, many parents will be relieved and reassured by the action taken.