Privacy Groups Mobilize to Monitor Kids Sites and Apps

Stricter online and mobile laws go into effect July 1

Stricter children's online privacy rules go into effect July 1, and privacy groups are getting ready to make sure websites and mobile apps targeting kids under 12 toe those newly drawn lines.

The Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy group that lobbied hard for the updates, is seeking help from more than 60 children's civil rights, advocacy and medical groups in monitoring websites and apps.

"We'll be focused initially on the major kids sites—Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network—to make sure they respect the new rules and empower parents with the information and control they deserve," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the CDD. In advance of the new school season, the group also intends to step up public education and launch an online campaign.

In an 18-page letter sent Monday, the CDD gives groups a backgrounder on the new rules and provides a step-by-step legal guide of what to look for on children's sites and mobile apps to make sure they are in compliance with the new rules. The CDD singled out a few potential violations in particular: asking children to take or upload pictures of themselves; collecting location information; and sending push notifications from an app that pop up on the device even when the app is not in use.

If any of the groups find a violation, the CDD is asking that group to notify them and the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the rules.

The FTC passed new rules last December updating the 15-year-old law requiring child-targeted websites to obtain parental permission before collecting personal information from kids under 12. The updates make it a lot harder for sites to market to children or collect data by expanding the definition of what is personal information to include things like photos, videos, geolocation and device identifiers.

Mobile apps are likely to come under the most scrutiny. The FTC last December also opened an investigation into kids mobile apps after a study found that most kids apps lack privacy policies and are in violation of the current children's online privacy laws. 

Publish date: June 24, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT