16 CFR Part 312, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Project No. P104503
The proposed revisions do not clarify the scope of the rule. Instead, the changes expand the scope into an unwarranted intrusion of protected free speech and commerce on the internet. By placing burdens on software developers who ultimately have little to no say or control over how their creations are used, the proposed revisions to COPPA Rule also infringes upon the rights of software creators to use their skills for gainful employment or advertising. Under the proposed changes to COPPA software developers would be held liable for violation under the Rule even if their code was misappropriated. Actual offending web sites owners seem to face no additional burdens. I find that very distressing. I operate an informational web site for an intended audience of technically literate adults. My web site gets very modest attention, generally fewer than a dozen readers per week. The proposed changes to the Rule would require me to either remove a contact and commentary page (restricting the free speech of my readers as well as my own), or supplement my web site by hiring a service for screening my readers to confirm they are not children in order to ensure I don't get sued or have my web site taken down over a single complaint, a ludicrous and completely unreasonable burden in my opinion. The proposed Rule changes are so overly broad that any person who publishes a web site could not be reasonably sure s/he was not in violation unless and until some legal action were taken against her/him. That's a hallmark of bad law and excessive regulation. The Internet is not an attractive nuisance like a swimming pool. The government cannot simply put a fence around it and claim it is perfectly safe. Such fantasy is simplistic and childish. This kind of thinking is paternalistic and insulting to any reasonable adult. Lastly, it also goes against everything the United States stands for: liberty with responsibility. I am amazed and astounded rulemaking such as this actually passes muster in today's Washington DC. I respectfully request the Rule changes be dismissed in the entirety.