- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Efforts by federal regulators to strengthen online privacy protections for children are overreaching and will stifle U.S. innovation on the Internet, technology industry advocates said this week.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says its proposed new rules under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA, are designed to keep up with new technology, like smartphones and tablets, ensuring that privacy protections for children under 13 who use the Web remain effective.

“The FTC’s proposed COPPA rule-making takes the effort to protect online privacy and turns it into a harmful barrier to American innovation,” said Ken Wasch, president of the Software and Information Industry Association, which represents more than 500 technology companies.

The trade commission’s proposed regulation is “an overly broad and unworkable regulatory framework for implementing COPPA,” Mr. Wasch said in a statement Monday evening, adding that it “goes well beyond congressional intent.”

Monday was the final day for submission of public comments about the proposed regulation, which expands the definitions of several key terms used in the 1998 law, including “personal information” and “website or online service directed to children.”

A coalition of consumer groups and expert associations like the Consumers Union and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, also commented on the proposed changes.

“Children’s Privacy Advocates generally support the Commission’s revised proposals,” said the Center for Digital Democracy, which heads the coalition.

FTC staff will begin reviewing and analyzing the comments received “to determine whether any further changes [to the proposed rule] are necessary,” said Phyllis Marcus, a commission official.

She said the commission hoped to be able to vote on a final rule “by the end of the fall” on Dec 21.

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