Yahoo Changes Rules For COPPA

Under 12? You should know that Yahoo is changing it's rules a bit for your segment of the population. This all comes in response to the amended online child protection law set forth by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), demonstrating Yahoo's willingness to comply. Yahoo_Logo

This updated law, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), was amended in order to further protect the privacy of children under the age of 13, as well as provide more control to parents when it comes to the personal information other websites and online services gather from them. This will be effective July 1, announced by the FTC in late 2012.

Yahoo's New Rules

Children below the age of 12 require parental consent in order to log in to Yahoo starting June 30. An email will be distributed to parents or guardians of users under 12 which asks them to give consent in order for the child to continue using any of Yahoo's sites. Children who have not obtained consent, upon logging in, will be redirected to a message telling them to remind their parents consent is required in order to access the account.

Consent on all accounts belonging to children under 12 is required from parents by August 31, 2013. If consent is not received by this deadline, Yahoo will consider the account inactive and delete it. The data associated with this deleted account will then be inaccessible, disappearing with the account itself, so if you don't plan on providing consent, you might consider downloading information like contacts and emails.

Not Everyone Onboard

Yahoo may have willingly changed their policies, but there are sites that refuse to comply. One of them: Facebook. When you look at the massive number of underage users on the social media site, you would think the COPPA rule would apply. However, Facebook feels restricting teens from fully engaging in the entire Facebook experience goes against their constitutional right to free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Facebook said, “For registered Facebook users, Facebook has actual knowledge that the user is at least 13 years old because he or she has provided a birthdate during the registration flow indicating an age of 13 years of age or older.” However, it's pretty easy to fake a birthdate, don't you think? In my own personal experience, I have seen parents willingly set up Facebook accounts for their 9 and 10 year old children, providing false birthdates in order to meet the 13-or-older criteria.

Others Comply Without A Problem

Besides Yahoo, other companies are on board with the amended rule. Google is one of them, sending out an email to users of Blogger to warn them that if their site does not take down all advertisements or links regarding external adult hosting sites, their site will be removed from Blogger entirely.

Google released no comment regarding this change, but one can surmise this is in relation to COPPA's requirement that site operators or hosting providers guard children's personal information, ensuring it is only given to third parties and service providers that can maintain the “confidentiality, security, and integrity of such information.”

How do you feel about this new change? Do you agree that it is impossible to verify that each person is truly the age they are purporting to be, making these rules ineffective, or do you think that it's a positive step to protecting the personal data regarding children? Do you think, like Facebook, that it is a violation of the constitutional rights of these children?

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