Tighter Preteen Privacy Rules Urged

Los-Angeles-Times-logoThe Federal Trade Commission wants to broaden the requirements on the collection of personal information by websites and online apps, as well as how they obtain parental approval.

Many preteens have dived into the expanding worlds of social networks and smartphone apps, but federal rules designed to protect their privacy are still in the era of Web portals and flip phones.

Now, regulators want an update.

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday proposed tougher privacy protections for children younger than 13, broadening requirements covering the collection of personal information by websites and online apps, as well as how they obtain parental approval.

Kristen Giatzis, 45, of Walnut Creek describes herself as "not an overly conservative mom" to her three daughters, ages 8, 12 and 15. But she welcomes tougher federal privacy rules for their online activity.

She says she's trying to teach her children how to protect themselves online, but it's nearly impossible to ensure they're not vulnerable on social networking sites and mobile applications on their phones.

"I think it will be a hard thing to regulate," said Giatzis, a freelancer in marketing and advertising. "There has got to be a balance between teaching our kids and not having them preyed upon."

The new rules, which are likely to be given final approval by the FTC after the public comment period ends in November, address the sweeping technological changes that have taken place since the agency last reviewed the landmark Children's Online Privacy Protection Act six years ago.

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