FTC Collects Comments On Privacy Framework, COPPA

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The Federal Trade Commission continued to get an earful Friday on the issue of protecting consumer privacy.

That came in comments on the FTC's "privacy by design" framework outlined in a staff draft report, "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers."

A coalition of consumer advocates including the Center for Digital Democracy, Children Now and the Consumer Federation of America are pushing for a do-not-track regime for teens and no behavioral targeting of them.

"Teens are using new media technologies for key social interactions and to explore their identities. This increased use of digital media subjects them to wholesale data collection and profiling of even their most intimate interactions with friends, family, and schools," the groups argue.

The FTC is currently considering both the privacy framework, and what changes it would or should make in implementing the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

The act applies those protections to children under 13, but the groups argue that they should apply to teens 13-17 as well. The FTC can make some changes to implementation of the act on its own, but FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz says it would take Congress to raise the effective age in the legislation.

Asked whether the report would advise upping the age to 17, Leibowitz said he did not want to prejudge the COPPA review. "But you want to have a benchmark standard for protecting privacy," he said, "and when it comes to particularly vulnerable populations or sensitive information--so health information and financial information--it may call for greater privacy protection."

Comments were due Friday on the draft report, and the bottom line for those groups was: "We urge that the privacy framework explicitly recognize adolescents as sensitive users and afford them special protections."

The FTC has gotten over 500 comments on the privacy issue, according to Leibowitz.

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