Protecting Children Online

The-Cocoon-Blog_logoWhether it is identity theft, online tracking, or profiling, the Internet can be an open door to a child’s personal information. A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy last year found that popular children’s websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites aimed at adults.

According to recent research by Consumer Reports,one million children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook in the past year — and that’s just one social media site. Furthermore, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says 8 percent of the ID theft complaints in 2010 involved children.

Society has an obligation to protect our children and online safety for children should be a priority. We need a three-pronged approach to address this issue: policy changes; industry self-regulation; and more parental tools, monitoring and education.

Current legislation being considered includes proposed amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by the FTC. COPPA has not been seriously updated since 1998 — only four years after the first browser was introduced to the marketplace. (That was back when you still needed an antenna on your car for your “car phone” to work.) In May, the Do Not Track Kidsbill (H.R. 1895) was introduced by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas); it proposes barring websites outright from using kids’ data to target ads to them until they are 17. Debates continue about the appropriate age cut-off and exactly how this legislation would be enforced.

Read the full blog.

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