Focus on Advertising to Children
The Interagency Voluntary Working Group on Food Marketed to Children released Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts to improve the nutritional profile of foods marketed to children in April 2011. Today, FTC Commissioner David Vladeck addressed 12 myths about the recommendations, including: (1) providing reassurance that the guidelines do not provide a basis for regulatory enforcement by the FTC; (2) noting that the proposal does not ban any marketing or specific food—it only recommends that certain products marketed to children meet nutritional principles; and (3) confirming that the proposal does not mean the end of chocolate Easter bunnies or the banishment of Toucan Sam from the Froot Loops box.
In May 2011, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) introduced a children’s online privacy bill, the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011.” The bill would amend and expand the protection offered by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). COPPA, which was created before Facebook and the proliferation of smartphones, only prohibits the collection of personally identifiable information from children under 12 without parental consent (read the FTC’s FAQs about COPPA here). The bill would expand the protection of COPPA by covering online and mobile applications, unique persistent identifiers like IP addresses, and it would establish new privacy rules for minors under 18. According to the press release from Rep. Markey:
The “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011” strengthens privacy protections for children and teens by:
- Requiring online companies to explain the types of personal information collected, how that information is used and disclosed, and the policies for collection of personal information;
- Requiring online companies to obtain parental consent for collection of children’s personal information;
- Prohibiting online companies from using personal information of children and teens for targeted marketing purposes;
- Establishing a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Teens” that limits the collection of personal information of teens, including geolocation information of children and teens;
- Creating an “Eraser Button” for parents and children by requiring companies to permit users to eliminate publicly available personal information content when technologically feasible.
The bill adopts many of the principles set forth in the Common Sense Media white paper, Protecting Our Kids’ Privacy in a Digital World.
The FTC has been collecting comments on the costs and benefits of the regulations implementing COPPA since April, including whether COPPA is broad enough to apply to mobile applications, mechanisms for obtaining parental consent, and Safe Harbor. The FTC is also seeking public comment on a proposed safe harbor program submitted by Aristotle International, Inc. for Commission approval under COPPA.