District of Columbia
2010 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Rule Review
I am deeply disturbed by proposals made by other commenters in this proceeding that go far beyond legitimate questions of improving the FTC's Implementation of the COPPA Rule—the ostensible purpose of this proceeding—and that would instead require fundamental changes to the COPPA statute itself. Not only can such changes be effected only by Congress, but doing so in the manner proposed by Common Sense Media, the Center for Digital Democracy and others would be unconstitutional and actually undermine online privacy for the reasons explained in the joint comments filed in this proceeding on June 30 by my organization, The Progress & Freedom Foundation, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I respectfully submit for the record the attached, previously published materials, which further elaborate on the constitutional and practical dangers inherent in any attempt to expand COPPA's age scope, dilute its knowledge requirements, or otherwise require age verification of adults in order to distinguish them from children: 1) A comprehensive PFF study of COPPA expansion published by myself and Adam Thierer, PFF's President, in June 2010, entitled: "COPPA 2.0: The New Battle over Privacy, Age Verification, Online Safety & Free Speech" 2) Written testimony I gave to the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Consumer Protection's April 29, 2010 hearing on “An Examination of Children's Privacy: New Technologies & the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act” 3) Responses to questions for the record on that hearing from Chairman Mark Pryor, submitted June 1, 2010 I hope all interested parties will recognize the dangers in expanding COPPA beyond its intentionally narrow scope and that the statute in its current form does the best that can reasonably be expected from the law to enhance parental involvement in the online activities of children. As PFF, CDT and EFF explain, the answer to concerns about online child privacy and safety lies in further education and parental empowerment, not in seeking silver bullet solutions through expanded age verification mandates that would, for the first time, extend beyond the "Internet Jr." of sites directed at pre-teens, as currently covered by COPPA.