Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, today held a hearing taking a comprehensive look at children's online privacy.
The hearing examined existing regulations under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and changes to the law recently proposed by the Federal Trade Commission. Congress originally enacted COPPA in 1998, but as technology develops and our world becomes increasingly mobile, it is clear a thorough review of the law is both prudent and necessary.
Mary Engle, the Associate Director for Advertising Practices of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC testified on the Commission's regulatory review of COPPA. According to her testimony, the purpose of the review was "to ensure that the Rule was keeping pace with changes in the marketplace, and that it was fulfilling its statutory mandate without imposing undue burdens." Engle gave a broad overview of the Commission's findings and its proposed changes to the rule. Members of the Subcommittee voiced support for these revisions and commended the Commission on its measured approach to regulation and the ability to provide adequate protections without stifling growth and technological innovation.
"For the most part, the Federal Trade Commission has done a great job of making sure COPPA has worked well for our kids and their families," said Bono Mack. "Kids today are becoming more tech savvy at a younger and younger age. But that exposure to exciting, new sophisticated devices -- and countless websites located around the world -- doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to have any better judgment or make them any more aware of what dangers might lurk online. That's why the FTC and parents everywhere must continue to play a critically important role in safeguarding the privacy of our children."
Morgan Reed, Executive Director of the Association for Competitive Technology, which advocates for software application developers, explained how the "evolution of mobile technology has led to renaissance in the software industry," fueling job growth throughout the country. Reed applauded the Commission's efforts and stressed the need for flexibility in the law to allow for continued innovation. To demonstrate the wide-reaching benefits of the technological revolution, Reed cited specific software applications developed by small businesses across the country.