Monday, June 04, 2012

Facebook's plans to allow under-13's to use site under "family access" and achieve COPPA compliance stirs controversy

Stories are circulating that Facebook is considering some sort of “family plan” to allow minors under 13 to join Facebook with all their activities monitored by parents.

Parental approval would presumably satisfy the requirements of COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (link in terms of the possibility of collecting information about minor users.
Talk has suggested that Facebook will sell family service as a way for extended family members to stay in touch with the kids.  But some experts feel that Facebook can’t replace the value of interactions in the physical world, or even with older, more mundane operations online (like email). 

PC Advisor UK has a perspective by David Daw on that question here

The original Wall Street Journal story (Monday) by Anton Troiavoski and Shayndi Raice is here

There is another practical question, of course, that we know well from COPA, whether there’s an effective way to screen users who lie about ages with some sort of adult-id system.  But it’s possible to imagine a future where biometrics (like retina scans) could change the game on that question. 

The whole adult-ID concept was shot down by COPA litigation, but at one time was regarded as a way to invalidate an even older law, the CDA (Communications Decency Act of 1996). 

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