The Illinois Attorney General is asking for the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen rules to protect minor’s privacy online. Kwame Raoul is asking the FTC to expand and strengthen regulations around the 1996 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA due to data collection by websites, mobile applications, and other digital marketing services. Raoul says that enforcement of the Act needs to be tightened to protect children from companies collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 and using that information to track them across the Internet.
Many websites and mobile applications collect personal information from users, including geographic location information, browser histories, search histories, voice recordings and more. Both the FTC and state attorneys general are empowered to enforce COPPA, though only the FTC is empowered to issue regulations based on it.
Raoul and a coalition of 25 attorneys general are urging the FTC to expand its definitions of personal information to include things like face-prints used to unlock consumers’ cellphones, health data from internet-connected smart watches and children’s genetic information. The letter also urges the FTC to clamp down on companies that embed code in children’s mobile applications and collect data to serve children behavioral advertising, and to examine how the rules apply to school-issued laptops that are “free” so long as companies get to collect information from the student users. Furthermore, Raoul and the coalition urge the FTC against creating exemptions that would allow massive websites like YouTube to skirt COPPA’s requirements.