FTC Overhauls Internet Child Advertising Rules

Dennis Faas's picture

Business groups are objecting to government proposals to restrict the way websites collect data about children. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly prepared to disregard that opposition.

Back in early August the commission announced its proposed changes, designed to bring old rules (written in the 1980s) up-to-date.

Advertisers Forced Into Major Changes

The new rules dramatically change how online advertising works. Under the new scheme, advertisers could no longer show children behavioral ads, which are selected based on the child's browsing history.

In addition, for the first time ever FTC rules would prevent third-party advertisers from placing an ad on sites they know are visited by children.

However, the new rules also introduce some changes that could benefit online advertisers.

For example, advertisers could begin to gather personal data on children for purely technical and administrative purposes.

The changes would also drop a rule that requires sites aimed at family audiences to treat every visitor as if they were under the age of 13.

Trade Organizations Object to Child Data Changes

Legal site Lexology reports that several industry associations have filed objections to the proposed rules. The Toy Industry Association says it's unfair to treat photographs as personal data. (Source: lexology.com)

Meanwhile, the Promotional Marketing Association says the rules should apply only if a child specifically admits to being under 13, rather than forcing website operators to check ages.

Finally, the Internet Advertising Bureau says companies should be allowed to use child data for targeted advertising.

However, observers don't expect the FTC to take much notice of these objections. The New York Times reports that the new rules are expected to get final approval "within weeks." (Source: nytimes.com)

The newspaper highlighted a promotion on the McDonald's website that encourages children to upload pictures of themselves, which the site then uses to create an image of a child appearing next to Ronald McDonald.

Under the new rules, children wouldn't be allowed to upload these kinds of pictures without acquiring permission from their parents.

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