FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid’s data • The Register

FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid’s data • The Register


The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it intends to take action against educational technology companies that illegally collect data from children using online educational services.

In a policy statement, the agency said: “Children should not have to hand in their data unnecessarily and lose their privacy to do their homework or participate in remote learning, especially considering the ‘wide and growing adoption of technological tools’.

The agency says it will examine educational service providers to make sure they are complying with their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

“Students should be able to do their homework unattended by companies looking to collect their data to complete their results,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Office of Consumer Protection. a statement. “Parents should not choose between their children’s privacy and their participation in the digital classroom.”

The Federal Trade Commission voted 5-0 to adopt the political statement, indicating that the will to defend children’s privacy extends across party lines: three of the FTC commissioners are Democrats and two Republicans.

The White House issued a statement in support of the vote, which is in line with statements by the Biden administration calling for greater protection of privacy.

“When children and parents access online educational products, they should not be forced to accept monitoring and surveillance to do so,” the White House said. “The FTC makes it clear that these requirements would violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and that the agency will crack down on companies that persist in exploiting our children to make money.”

COPPA came into force in April 2000 and was amended in 2013. It applies to commercial websites and online services (including mobile applications and IoT devices) aimed at children under the age of 13 or they are known to be used by children under the age of 13 who collect, use or disclose personal data. information. It requires these services to provide notice of the use of the data and to obtain parental consent.

The FTC is indicating its intention to pay more attention to COPPA violations, but has not completely ignored the law. For the past 22 years, the FTC has fined more than two dozen companies for collecting data on minors without the explicit consent of parents.

The biggest deal revealed came in 2019, when Google and YouTube agreed to pay $ 170 million to resolve allegations of COPPA violations. Also that year, TikTok also paid $ 5.7 million to pay the charges that the app under its previous name Musical.ly collected data from children without parental consent.

Unfortunately for adults, the US does not have a complete federal privacy law like the General Data Protection Regulation of Europe; rather, it has a mosaic of laws that, like the COPPA, cover privacy in certain contexts. For example, the Health Insurance Liability and Portability Act (HIPAA) covers communications between a person and other specific entities, such as physicians, hospitals, and insurers. Another student-oriented privacy law is the Family Privacy and Educational Rights Act (FERPA), which includes how education records are protected.

Outside of specific situations covered by these laws, or states like California that have broad privacy regimes, you are on your own when it comes to protecting your data and protecting your privacy. ®



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