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FTC alerts crackdown on ed-tech harvesting child’s information • The Register


The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday stated it intends to take motion towards academic expertise firms that unlawfully acquire information from kids utilizing on-line academic companies.

In a coverage assertion, the company stated, “Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools.”

The company says it should scrutinize academic service suppliers to make sure that they’re assembly their authorized obligations below COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

“Students must be able to do their schoolwork without surveillance by companies looking to harvest their data to pad their bottom line,” stated Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press release. “Parents should not have to choose between their children’s privacy and their participation in the digital classroom.”

The Federal Trade Commission voted 5-0 to undertake the coverage assertion, indicating that willingness to defend kids’s privateness extends throughout social gathering strains – three of the FTC commissioners are Democrats and two are Republicans.

The White House issued a press release in help of the vote, which aligns with Biden administration statements calling for higher privateness safety.

“When children and parents access online educational products, they shouldn’t be forced to accept tracking and surveillance to do so,” the White House stated. “The FTC is making it clear that such requirements would violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and that the agency will be cracking down on companies that persist in exploiting our children to make money.”

COPPA took impact in April, 2000 and was amended in 2013. It applies to industrial web sites and on-line companies (together with cellular apps and IoT gadgets) geared toward, or identified for use by, kids below 13 that acquire, use, or disclose private info. It requires that such companies present discover of information use and procure parental consent.

The FTC is signaling its intention to pay nearer consideration to COPPA violations but it surely hasn’t been fully ignoring the legislation. Over the previous 22 years, the FTC has fined over two dozen firms for gathering information from minors with out specific parental consent.

The largest settlement disclosed got here in 2019 when Google and YouTube agreed to pay $170 million to resolve allegations of COPPA violations. Also that yr, TikTok additionally paid $5.7 million to settle fees that the app below its earlier identify Musical.ly, collected kids’s information with out parental consent.

Unfortunately for adults, the US would not have a complete federal privateness legislation like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation; quite, it has a patchwork of legal guidelines that, like COPPA, cowl privateness in sure contexts. For instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) covers communications between an individual and different particular entities, like medical doctors, hospitals, and insurers. Another student-oriented privateness legislation is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which covers how academic information are protected.

Outside the particular conditions lined by these legal guidelines, or states like California which have broad privateness regimes, you are by yourself in relation to defending your information and defending your privateness. ®



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