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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: FTC releases childrens info regulations -- and a cri

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Wed, 20 Oct 1999 15:36:30 -0400
To:             	politech@vorlon.mit.edu
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject:        	FC: FTC releases childrens info regulations -- and a critique
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com

[Attached is a critique of the regulations written by a GOP House
staffer. --DBM]


                     FTC Weighs In on Kid Privacy
                     by Declan McCullagh (declan@wired.com)

                     10:35 a.m. 20.Oct.99.PDT
                     WASHINGTON -- The US Federal Trade
                     Commission released long-awaited rules
                     restricting what information Web sites
                     may collect about children Wednesday

                     Starting on 21 April, 2000, many Web
                     sites must obtain parental consent before
                     recording personal information about
                     minors younger than 13 years old. [...]


Children's Privacy Regulation:  Preserving the Digital Divide

 New children's Internet privacy regulations issued by the Federal
Trade Commission may preserve the "digital divide," blocking paths out
of poverty for children.  The regulations would require Internet
websites directed to children to get "verifiable parental consent"
before collecting children's personal information.

 This is very likely to prevent the children who need it most from
interacting with educational websites.  Children whose parents speak a
foreign language, do not use computers, or do not have credit cards
will have limited means to give "verifiable consent" to their
children's use of websites.  

 Websites have observed dropout rates of 50% or more when they ask for
parental notification.  (Cassidy Sehgal-Kolbet, Council of Better
Business Bureaus, transcript at 79-80)  These are educational doors
closed to children. 

 In addition, requiring parental consent may prevent teachers from
guiding children from website to website in a classroom setting. 
(Leanna Landsmann, Time for Kids, transcript at 124-26)

 Imposing these regulations will seriously reduce the number and
usefulness of children's websites.  A medium size company may have to
spend $50,000 to $60,000 per year to comply with the regulations
(Parry Aftab; transcript at 15-16), causing children's sites to close
down or never open.

 These regulations have numerous other defects as well.  For example:

*	In order to give verifiable consent, parents will have to reveal
their own private information.  (transcript at 285-86)

*	The regulations will affect thousands and thousands of small
businesses, a fact the FTC failed to consider when it proposed the
regulations.  (See Eric Menge, SBA, transcript at 308;
http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/comments/gekas.pdf )

*	The FTC can apply these regulations to all websites!  FTC has said
that it may apply the regulations to sites whose operators know that
visitors are under 13 (rule @ 18 (discussion of "Website or online
service directed to children" definition)).  FTC has already taken
testimony that children regularly visit general interest sites like
Yahoo, the Weather Channel, and CNN.  (Kris Bagwell, MTV Networks
Online, transcript at 31).

*	The regulations dictate, for the first time in history, how an
Internet website must be constructed, dictating where a link must
appear on a page.  (rule @ 81; proposed rule @ 13 ("Placement of the
notice")("The link . . . must be placed such that a typical visitor
does not need to scroll down from the initial viewing screen."))

In the meantime, the Clinton/Gore White House collects information
from children in ways that would be illegal if it were subject to the
same laws! The "White House for Kids" website tips its hat to privacy,
then asks a visiting child to submit his or her name, school, grade
level, e-mail address, and home address- without verifiable parental
consent! See http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/kids/html/write.html  The
Presidential Records Act requires the White House to maintain records
of this information, and makes it available to the courts, Congress,
and the President during whose Administration the information was
collected.  In other words, personal information about the children
who contact the Clinton/Gore White House is being collected and will
be available to former President Clinton for his entire
post-Presidential career.

"rule" refers to the Final Rule.  See

"proposed rule" refers to the Proposed Rule.  See

"transcript" refers to the FTC's Children's Online Privacy Protection
Rule Public Workshop, Tuesday, July 20, 1999.  See

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