Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

FC: FTC releases childrens info regulations -- and a cri

------- Forwarded message follows ------- Date sent: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 15:36:30 -0400 To: From: Declan McCullagh <> Subject: FC: FTC releases childrens info regulations -- and a critique Send reply to:

[Attached is a critique of the regulations written by a GOP House staffer. --DBM],1283,32007,00.html

FTC Weighs In on Kid Privacy by Declan McCullagh (

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 morning.

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; )

* 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 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

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- POLITECH -- the moderated mailing list of politics and technology To subscribe: send a message to with this text: subscribe politech More information is at ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- ------- End of forwarded message -------