New times require new rules. That is why the Federal Trade Commission is updating its decade-old rule surrounding children’s online privacy. This time, the FTC wants to include social networks and smartphone apps. The report comes after a complaint was made by the Center for Digital Democracy to ban Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Diner Dash from Apple’s App Store for collecting email addresses from its very young players.
The newly updated rule now requires children-oriented apps and websites to obtain parental consent before gathering kids’ photos, videos or geographic location, or tracking kids’ online behavior and passing along the data to other companies. However, the FTC adds that platforms including Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store are exempted from having to make sure that the apps they sell will comply to the new law.
Additionally, third-party “plug-ins” on websites are only required to meet child online privacy regulations if they have “actual knowledge” that they are collecting information via a children-oriented website or app. In spite of the FTC’s achievement, Jeffrey Chester, the Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy, says that the decision is a step in the right direction, but it still leaves loopholes for companies to mine children’s data.